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Hot Prospects – Week 18

With just a few weeks left in the minor league season, I thought I would start to transition the player write-ups to what you will see in our Team profiles this fall.  We have expanded the list from 10 plus an emerging prospect to a Top 15 for each team.  The write-ups will be smaller but with less background information and instead, more focus on current and future potential.  As I did with the write-up of Vlad Jr. and Peter Alonso, I will detail both fantasy strategies and scouting rationale to provide some deeper analysis.  I will not do this on all of the write-ups, not even most, but will sprinkle those narratives where it makes sense (and, ok…I have the time).

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. (3B, Tor, Triple-A) – As we’ve stated multiple times, we could have included Vlad Guerrero Jr. nearly every week on our Hot Prospect list.  He has a chance to hit .400 with 20 plus home runs this season and is still only 19 years old.  His combination of power, plate discipline, and incredible hand-to-eye coordination point to a ceiling of that provided by Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera in their prime.  Both won MVPs and both went number one overall in fantasy drafts during their peak years.  Just saying…

The fun question to think about is where will Vlad Jr. will go in fantasy drafts next year?  If you use Ronald Acuna as a benchmark and assume that Guerrero’s hit tool is at least a grade higher and his power also a grade higher, it’s reasonable to think of his draft slot as a third or even second round pick in a mixed 15-team League.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  But, Acuna ended the draft season as a high fifth-round pick in the NFBC and after an adjustment period, is proving that the fifth round was a bargain.  Vlad Jr. could be better and in a better park.  Plus, he has the hype machine churning, perhaps even higher than Acuna this time last year.  What will I do?  If he’s sitting in the third round, I’m likely going to jump on him.  I think he’ll be that good.

Vidal Brujan (2B, TB, High-A) – I’ve already started working on my Top 15 team rankings for 2019.  What I’ve quickly realized is that the Rays system is really good.  It better be because the Red Sox and Yankees are really good and the Rays will need to pounce when both teams windows close around 2021 or 2022.  Vidal Brujan is a name that fantasy owners need to know.  He has double-plus speed and has already stolen 48 bases across Low and High-A this season.  He also has walked as much as he’s struck out.  He’s been red-hot in August, batting .458 with six stolen bases and two home runs.

Grant Lavigne (1B, Col, ROK) – The Rockies selected high schooler Grant Lavigne in the supplemental first round (pick 42) with the hope that he would hit enough to allow his double-plus power to play.  After 44 games, it looks like a huge win for the Rockies.  He’s walked nearly as much as he’s struck out and his strikeout rate has been 16.7%, which is very good for a power hitter.  While he’s slugging .576, he’s only hit six home runs to-date but he’s also showed a little bit of speed by stealing nine bases.  I don’t believe the speed sticks as he’s 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds but do believe the home run power will improve.

Before getting too excited, remember that the Northwest League is a hitters league and Asheville, which is likely where he starts next season is one of the best hitter’s parks in all of the minor leagues.  Then again, so is Coors Field, so maybe that doesn’t matter too much.

Peter Alonso (1B, NYM, Triple-A) – The Mets drafted Peter Alonso in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft after a standout college career at the University of Florida.  Scouts were mixed on him entering the draft as his power was more strength driven than bat-speed driven.  You might be asking, why is that important?  Well, with the level of velocity we are seeing in baseball, and every pitcher seemingly able to dial it up their fastball to 95 MPH, without excellent bat speed, it’s just hard to catch up to premium velocity.  Pitchers will find the holes and exploit and without the necessary bat speed, the batter will become a mistake hitter.

The good news with Alonso is that he has developed great plate discipline and has shortened his swing.  Both skills have helped him get his strikeouts under control, and both will help him compensate for not having elite bat speed.  The results:  It’s working.  He tore through Double-A and after a brief struggle in Triple-A, he’s hitting .340 with six home runs in August.  The upside is a 30 home run first baseman hitting .270.  The downside, and yes there is a downside, is A.J. Reed.  In other words, a player that gets exploited in the major leagues.  Adding to the risk, the Mets have a long history of losing patience with young players, having them ride the shuttle between Triple-A and the Majors for longer than fantasy owners would like to see.

D’Shawn Knowles (OF, LAA, Rok) – Under the leadership of Billy Eppler, the Angels have gotten serious about signing International talent.  In 2017, they signed D’Shawn Knowles out of the Bahamas for $800,000.  In his first taste of professional baseball, the 17-year-old has performed.  The Angles started him off in the AZL and after 30 games and a .301 batting average, promoted him to the Pioneer League where he played even better.  His carrying tool is his double-plus speed and to-date has stolen eight bases.  While he’s only 17, he has demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate walking at a 12% rate.  The strikeouts are a little high but as he gains experience and strength, he has the skillset to hit at the top of a lineup with 30 plus stolen bases and enough power to have double-digit power.

Colton Welker (3B, Col, High-A) – It’s always hard to get a feel for young Rockies players as their first three stops (Grand Junction, Asheville, and Lancaster) are hitters parks.  In the case of Asheville and Lancaster, you can add the adjective extreme.  Welker has hit and showed power at each stop.  To-date, it’s mostly been doubles-power but as he gains strength and leverage in his swing, many of those doubles will start to clear the fences.  On the downside, the swing can get long and therefore, strikeouts will develop, particularly as he moves up levels.  In other words, I don’t see him as a .300 hitter long-term.  What I do believe is that he can pop 25 home runs with a .260 batting average and a handful of stolen bases.  He should move to Double-A next season and that will be the real test.  For now, I think he has the California League figured out as he’s batting .500 so far in August with as many walks as strikeouts.

Shervyen Newton (SS, NYM, Rok) – When you’re 6-foot-4 and only 180 pounds, the word projection is frequently used.  That’s what the Mets have been saying about Shervyen Newton when the signed him out of Curacao in 2015.  They have been taking it very slowly with Newton and this year, he has started to show his potential.  In Kingsport of the Appy League, he’s slashed .293/.406/.486 with five home runs four stolen bases.  While the Mets have always loved his feel for hitting as well as his approach, they have to be thrilled by his developing power.  Could he develop into a power-hitting infielder, like another Curacao native, Jonathan Schoop has?  While I don’t think he has 30 home run power, I could see 20 but with a much better hit-tool.  He’s been red-hot since the beginning of August and is a nice under-the-radar prospect that fantasy owners should be jumping on.

Joe Palumbo (RHP, Tex, High-A) – Joe Palumbo has taken quite a journey to make this list.  He was drafted in the 30th round in 2013 as a reliever and pitched ok but things started to click when the Rangers moved him to the starting rotation in 2016 only for him to have Tommy John reconstructive surgery in 2017.  After surgery and a lengthy rehab, he’s back pitching and doesn’t look like he’s lost a beat.  In six starts for the Down East Wood Ducks (think East North Carolina, kind of in the middle of nowhere), he’s pitched to a 2.67 ERA while striking out 34 and walking six.  In this two starts in August, he’s pitched 10.1 shutout innings while striking out 20 and walking three.  He’s doing it with a mid-90’s fastball and a curveball that is already plus.  He’s still working on his change-up.  There’s number three starter upside here and perhaps a little more.

Michael Kopech (RHP, CHW, Triple-A) – I’ve been all over the map with Michael Kopech.  I saw him in 2017 season and clocked his 80-grade fastball at 102.2 MPH and got really excited.  I saw the athleticism and drooled.  I also saw 30-grade control and knew he had some work to do.  I even speculated that unless his secondary pitches improved and more importantly, his control improved, he might be bound for the bullpen.  I reiterated that again this year as I’ve had a chance to see him pitch twice in Charlotte.  Recently though, he’s changed.  His fastball is sitting more 97 MPH (plenty fast) and in turn, he’s developed better control.  The secondary pitches are better but still need work.  But in seven starts since July 1st, he’s struck out 56 and walked eight.  Uh, that’s pretty good.  It could be time to move the ceiling back to a number two starter.  If he doesn’t overthrow, the White Sox might have a kid that can pitch at the top-of-the-rotation…and soon.

Luis Patino (RHP, SD, Low-A) – In a stacked system like the Padres, even guys that are ranked outside the Top 10 have number three starter upside.  In case you’re wondering…that is just unusual.  Luis Patino has three quality pitches in a fastball that tops out at 95 MPH with a potential future-plus curveball and an emerging change-up.  He’s only 6-feet tall but does pitch from a high three-quarter delivery.  Home runs have not yet been a problem, but could as he moves through the system.  You can argue that the 18-year-old is ready for High-A as he’s pitching to a 2.39 ERA in 15 starts.  In August, he’s thrown10.1 innings, giving up two runs while striking out 17 and walking three.

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Waiver Wire – Week 21

The waiver wire is really full this week as injuries are taking their toll and poor performances, particularly with closers have reared their ugly head.  This week’s waiver wire can be found here.

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Hot Prospects – Week 17

As we start to wind down the minor league season, I decided to go deep and present some players that have had very good starts to their professional career.  All of them are still in rookie ball, so caution needs to be exhibited but the starts are indeed encouraging.  Finally, Jesus Luzardo makes our list again and is quickly becoming one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues with the ceiling of a number two starter.  In fact, his stay in Triple-A will likely be short-lived as he could help the Oakland A’s now in their playoff run.

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.

Nolan Gorman (3B, STL, Rookie) – Drafted in the first round of June’s draft, Nolan Gorman’s calling card was his double-plus raw power.  In 36 games in rookie ball, the raw power has translated to in-game power as he’s hit 11 with a .664 SLG.  The power has come with too many strikeouts (22% strikeout rate) but he’s also walked 14.5% of the time.  Given the state of the game today, that should make him a valuable contributor.

Alex McKenna (OF, Hou, Rookie) – With their fourth-round pick in last June’s draft, the Astros grabbed outfielder Alex McKenna.  After signing, he was assigned to the New York Penn League where he’s done nothing but hit.  He has a .968 OPS with five home runs and four stolen bases.  Three of those home runs have come in the last week and given his college pedigree, he might see Low-A before the season ends.

Mark Vientos (3B, NYM, Rookie) – I’ve gotten a number of tweets about Mark Vientos.  Basically, asking if he is for real?  Well, if you like guys who can hit with plus raw power, then the answer is a resounding yes.  He’s moved off shortstop to third base and should have enough chops to stay there long term.  The only real downside from a fantasy standpoint is that he’s a below average runner.  He’s only in rookie ball, but he’s posted a .888 OPS this year and has been red-hot over the past week, hitting .375 with a .667 SLG.

Gilberto Celestino (OF, Min, Rookie) – I drafted Gilberto Celestino last year in most of my Dynasty Leagues.  While I always preach patience with young kids, of course, I had none and do not own him anywhere now.  While he’s still in Rookie Ball, he doesn’t turn 20 until next year, so he’s right on schedule.  He posted a .868 OPS for the Astros before being traded last week to the Twins and has kept it up.  He’s a double-plus runner and should develop double-digit home run pop.  Yeah…I know, I should have kept him.

Bobby Dalbec (3B, Bos, Double-A) – The Red Sox system is really barren.  It’s a bottom five farm system easily.  But with the best record in baseball and an excellent shot for a World Series appearance, do you think the fans care?  Exactly.  What’s interesting is that the core of their team is homegrown and the best part is most of them have become stars.  A rare but impressive feat.  While I don’t see any stars remaining (maybe Jason Groome), third baseman Bobby Dalbec has me wondering.  He popped a league-leading 26 home runs in the Carolina League and has already hit two in his first four games in Double-A since his promotion.

Nate Lowe (1B, TB, Double-A) – The Lowe’s of Tampa Bay are having outstanding years.  Brandon, just got promoted to the big leagues (who saw that coming?) and Nate Lowe, no relations, has been raking all year.  He’s hitting .342 in Double-A with a .610 SLG.   Plus, he’s gotten better as the year has progressed.  In August, he’s hitting .342 walking more than he’s striking out.  He’s gone from an extra bat ceiling to a legitimate regular at first base.

Cavan Biggio (2B, Tor, Double-A) – Cavan Biggio got off to a tremendous start this year and was one of the real pop-up players in the minor leagues.  After all, he has the bloodlines.  However, after a June and July where he hit below the Mendoza line, questions about his ultimate ceiling surfaced again.  As August has rolled around, he’s back to his Spring form, batting .364 with a .773 SLG.  So, who is Cavan Biggio?  I’m not sure.  The bat speed is not great and he’s only an average runner.  But, he controls the strike zone, can steal bases even though he’s not a burner and has developed some power.  I think he gets a chance to be the Blue Jays second baseman, perhaps as early as next season.  If nothing else, it would fit the narrative of three kids of former MLB stars coming up together.  If you don’t know the other two…well, it’s time to start digging into our site.

Jesus Luzardo (LHP, Oak, Triple-A) – Jesus Luzardo makes our list again and is bucking for our Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.  He was promoted to Triple-A this week and pitched five shutouts innings with six strikeouts and no walks.  If there is one criticism.  He has only had one start where he has pitched more than five innings.  It was a six-inning shutout in July.  Are the A’s saving him for a stretch run?  Have they determined his stuff doesn’t play the third time through the lineup?  I don’t see that.  He’s never been the model of health, so perhaps they are just limiting his work.  Regardless, he’s quickly becoming one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues.

Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW, Double-A) – Dylan Cease is yet another big arm in the White Sox organization that is showing top-of-the-rotation potential.  He’s always had great stuff with a fastball that can hit the upper nineties and a curveball that can bend knees, but his control has never been there.  That is changing.  In 13 starts in High-A, he posted a 3.52 BB/9 and in seven starts in Double-A, he’s been even better, only giving up 2.88 walks per nine.  When you combine that with a strikeout rate of nearly 12, the ceiling is pretty easy to see.

Tony Santillan (RHP, Cin, Double-A) – I’ve always been a big fan of Reds right-hander Tony Santillan and of course because he spent a couple of years in Low-A, I dropped him for what I’m assuming is a guy I dropped as well.  The breakout though has occurred in 2018.  He tore through the Florida State League and in six starts in Double-A, is pitching to a 1.78 ERA.  He’s also striking out a batter an inning while walking only two per nine.  Want more…his fastball sits 96 to 97 MPH and the slider is finally working and getting a ton of swing and misses.  That was best seen in his July 30th start where he struck out 11 in 5.2 shutout innings while walking two.  He’s a strong candidate for making my 2019 Top 100 Prospect List.

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Hot Prospects – Week 15

We took a week off to drop our midseason Top 50 prospect list, but this week, we get back on the horse of providing you a list of 10 prospects who have stood out this week.  In fact, this week, we gave you a bonus of two.

Several familiar names highlight the list including Tyler O’Neill and Corey Ray who have both made our list multiple times.  However, there are new names including Rookie sensation Wander Franco and the lesser known Freudis Nova.  While I didn’t including any of the 2018 draftees, Nick Madrigal had a nice week, hitting .458 in Kannapolis with no strikeouts in 25 plate appearance.  Wait a minute…maybe I should expand the list to 13…

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.

Tyler O’Neill (STL, OF, Triple-A) – I think Tyler O’Neill has this Triple-A thing figured out.  In 58 games, he’s hit 25 home runs including five in two days this past week.  He’s had a couple of chances in the majors this year, but after 19 games, he’s only hit .227.  While it’s a tiny sample size, baseball teams, especially contenders are trying to catch lightning in a bottle and O’Neill has not done that.  He’s still very much a prospect and I believe he’ll be given a shot to get full-time at-bats if not later this season, then next year.

Alex Kirilloff (Min, OF, High-A) – After missing all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery, Alex Kiriloff is making up for lost time.  After hitting .333 in Low-A to begin the season, he’s done even better in High-A.  In 29 games, he’s hitting .383 with a .592 SLG.  Want more…over the past eight games, he’s hitting .656 with two home runs.  Kiriloff is a great hitter with enough strength and bat speed to pop 15 to 20 home runs annually.

Brent Rooker (Min, OF, Double-A) – Brent Rooker has shown flashes this year of being an impact middle of the order bat and this week was no exception where he went 11 for 23 with two home runs.  The approach is not great as there is a lot of swing and miss and he can get aggressive at the plate.  However, the power is real and with a more patient approach, that ceiling could be reached.

Eloy Jimenez (CHW, OF, Triple-A) – I had a chance to see Eloy Jimenez this past week and as in every other scouting visit, I came away very impressed.  Not only is he physically impressive, the power is very much real with tremendous loft in his swing.  The swing, of course, gets long so strikeouts will be part of the equation, but so could 30 plus home runs.  There’s no reason to promote him this year, but assuming health, he’ll see Chicago sometime in the first half of the 2019 season.

Wander Franco (TB, SS, Rookie) – Last year, Ronald Acuna tore through the minor leagues and his year it was Juan Soto’s turn, even eclipsing the speed of Acuna.  Don’t be surprised if next season Wander Franco is that guy.  Oh yeah, he plays for the Rays, so that probably won’t happen, but if you’re looking for your next stud player, it could very well be him.  He can hit with power and some speed.  He’ll make our Top 100 next season and then some.

Blake Rutherford (CHW, OF, High-A) – After a very inconsistent year in 2017, Blake Rutherford is starting to show signs of what the Yankees saw when they drafted him the first round of the 2016 draft.  He’s red-hot in July, batting .369 with a .452 SLG.  The power hasn’t developed yet, but he has good bat speed with solid athleticism so I think in the end, he will develop 15 to 20 home runs pop.  Throw-in 15 or so stolen bases with a solid hit tool, and he could make a nice number three outfielder on your fantasy team.

Corey Ray (Mil, OF, Double-A) – Did you know that Corey Ray has 20 home runs and 32 stolen bases this season?  I knew he had a great week and why I wanted to put him on the list, but WOW, that’s impressive production; and he’s doing it in Double-A.  I’ve not seen Ray this year, but last season I saw him several times and was not a fan of his swing.  There’s a ton of swing and miss (27% strikeout rate) but there’s also a ton of bat speed and he’s a plus runner.  If I’m being honest though, he does remind me a little of…gulp…Lewis Brinson.  That’s a great comp if you’re looking for a ceiling but let’s hope it doesn’t come with a .160 batting average in his rookie season.

Freudis Nova (Hou, SS, Rookie) – Dynasty League owners are always looking for under-the-radar Latin players.  How about Houston Astros’ Freudis Nova.  He has plus speed, great bat speed and an understanding of the strike zone.  Plus, he’s likely to stay at shortstop.  In fact, he’s the perfect guy to be included in a deadline trade this summer as he has the kind of upside that rebuilding teams are looking for.  Just for the record, he’s hitting .325 with a .815 OPS with two home runs and five stolen bases in Rookie Ball this year.

Adonis Medina (Phi, RHP, High-A) – I saw the Phillies Low-A team several times last year and really liked Adonis Medina.  While Sixto Sanchez has the 80-grade fastball, Medina is the better current pitcher and while the ceiling isn’t as high, could be a solid number three future pitcher, if not more.  While his ERA is 1.50 worse this year, if you dig under the peripheral stats, his strikeout rate, walk rate, BABIP are all identical (almost to the fourth digit).  The difference is that his LOB is off significantly and therefore, more guys are scoring.  When it’s all clicking like it was earlier this week, he can be totally dominant.  On July 21st vs. Florida, he pitched seven scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts and no walks.

Josh James (Hou, RHP, Triple-A) – Josh James was the flavor of the week about a month ago when everybody was adding him to their Dynasty League.  I even got caught up and added him to one league.  I get it, there’s a lot to like.  He’s got size, throws hard and is sporting a 14 K/9 rate.  He’s also walking four per nine, is 25-years-old with a lot of effort in his delivery.  He’s likely a bullpen arm long-term but he could see some spot starts later this season.

Logan Allen (SD, LHP, Double-A) – While all the pitching love in San Diego is going to MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Morejon, Cal Quantrill, and Michael Baez, lefty Logan Allen is arguably having the best season of the bunch.  In 18 games in Double-A, he’s posted a 2.59 ERA while striking out well over a batter an inning while walking less than three per nine.  He has good stuff with a fastball that sits 92 to 93 and three quality secondary pitches.  He throws strikes and has demonstrated solid command of all of his pitches.  That command has been on display since June 1st where he’s pitched to a sub 2.00 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 6 walks.  He didn’t do this in Rookie Ball, but instead, in Double-A.  Yeah…that’s pretty good.

Trevor Rogers (Mia, RHP, Low-A) – Miami drafted Trevor Rogers as their first overall pick last season and decided to keep him out of action until this season.  They even held him back until late May but since then, he’s pitched well.  While the 5.98 ERA is not impressive, he’s striking out over 10 per nine with a reasonable 3.5 walk rate.  Over his past four starts, he’s really turned it up, pitching to a 3.00 ERA and keeping the ball in the ballpark.

 

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Waiver Wire – Week 18

The first edition of the second half waiver wire brings a lot of gems that you should consider picking up.  We have a couple of speculative picks, particularly one in Baltimore that should be addressed.  There is also the closer carousel that is rearing its head again.

The list can be found here.

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2018 First Half Fantasy All Star Team

It’s time to break out the Hardware, or at least toss a little love in the direction of some of the first half gems that were found on the Waiver Wire. Adding any number of these players could prove to be the difference maker come years end!

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player. 

Catcher

John Hicks, 1B/C, DET (CBS: 3% owned Week 7) The injury to Miguel Cabrera opened up a window of opportunity and path to increased at-bats, and Hicks has taken full advantage of the situation. Nine homers, 32 RBI, and a .278 BA help greatly when one is looking at filling the role of a second catcher in two-catcher formats.

Honorable Mention:  John Ryan Murphy, C, ARZ (CBS: 8% owned Week 11), Yan Gomes, C, CLE (CBS: 15% owned Week 6), Nick Hundley, C, SF (CBS: 3% owned Week 7), Elias Diaz, C, PIT (CBS: 1% owned Week 7)

First Base

Jesus Aguilar, 1B, MIL (CBS: 10% owned Week 6): And your NL home run leader at the All Star break, with 24, is Jesus Aguilar. In Week Six there was considerable doubt that Aguilar would have a job, with the crowded situation in Milwaukee. If you hit, and Aguilar has hit a ton, they will find room. We’ll toss our support behind either Aguilar, Max Muncy, or Ross Stripling as the choice for the first half Waiver Wire MVP.

Honorable Mention: C.J. Cron, 1B, TAM (CBS: 10% owned Week 1), Yuli Gurriel, 1B, HOU (CBS: 51% owned Week 3), Brandon Belt, 1B, SF (CBS: 50% owned Week 5), Mitch Moreland, 1B, BOS (CBS: 37% owned Week 8), Jake Bauers, 1B, TAM (CBS: 18% owned Week 12)

Second Base

Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX (CBS: 11% owned Week 4): It has been a long ride, but Jurickson Profar is finally healthy and getting the opportunity to demonstrate the skills that at one point had him considered to be one of the top prospects in the game. For those that took the chance early in the season, the nine homer, 46 RBI, 50 runs scored, and eight stolen base first half are the rewards.

Honorable Mention: Daniel Robertson, 2B, TAM (CBS: 2% owned Week 5), Daniel Descalso, 1B/2B/3B/OF, ARZ (CBS: 29% owned Week 13)

Third Base

Max Muncy, 1B/3B/OF (CBS: 54% owned Week 12): By Week 12, Muncy was already well on his way to being one of the best of the first half best. When you smash 15 homers between the beginning of June and the All Star break, numbers that leave you in fourth place overall in the NL, you have to be one of both the biggest surprises and most coveted Waiver Wire adds of the season.

Honorable Mention: Miguel Andujar, 3B, NYY (CBS: 39% owned Week 5), Christian Villanueva, 3B, SD (CBS: 13% owned Week 3)

Shortstop

Johan Camargo, SS/3B, ATL (CBS: 7% owned Week 9): Very quietly, Camargo has enjoyed a very solid first half. Those nine homers, 39 RBI, and .756 OPS, the bulk of which were accumulated after the beginning of May, has helped teams playing in 15 and 20-team formats.

Honorable Mention: Jose Iglesias, SS, DET (CBS: 11% owned Week 9)

Outfield

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, TEX (CBS: 45% owned Week 3): A tough and close call, but the 18 first half homers combined with the 54 runs scored and outstanding .405 OBP, makes Choo our choice as the best buy amongst outfielders in the first half.

Matt Kemp, OF, LAD (CBS: 51% owned Week 1): He reported to camp “in the best shape of his life”, and the proof is in the 15 homer, 60 RBI first half pudding.

Matt Adams, 1B/OF, WAS (CBS: 27% owned Week 7): Fifteen big flies to go along with 39 RBI is a solid first half. The fact that Adams stepped up, while Ryan Zimmerman stepped away, has been huge for Washington.

Honorable Mention: Dustin Fowler, OF, OAK (CBS: 16% owned Week 8), Mallex Smith, OF, TAM (CBS: 20% owned Week 4), Albert Almora, OF, CHC (CBS: 20% owned Week 6), Alen Hanson, 2B/OF, SF (CBS: 1% owned Week 6), Brandon Nimmo, OF, NYM (CBS: 6% owned Week 9), Juan Soto, OF, WAS (CBS: 43% owned Week 9), Gorkys Hernandez, OF, SF (CBS: 2% owned Week 10), Nick Williams, OF, PHI (CBS: 13% owned Week 11), Jon Jay, OF, ARZ (CBS: 38% owned Week 14), Teoscar Hernandez, OF, TOR (CBS: 13% owned Week 4)

Starting Pitcher

Ross Stripling, SP/RP, LAD (CBS: 7% owned Week 9) How does one emerge as the top pitcher on the Waiver Wire in the first half. Try posting an 8-2 won/loss record with 108 strikeouts in 95 1/3 IP. The 2.08 ERA also helps a tad. No one, yes no one, saw this level of success in the cards, but those that gambled on his hot start will be more than likely sitting at or near the top of the pitching categories.

Andrew Heaney, SP, LAA (CBS: 43% owned Week 9): Finally healthy, Heaney is poised to top his all-time high in innings pitched with his first start of the second half.  A solid 3.78 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 102 strikeouts in 102 1/3 IP have been a huge factor in keeping the Angels in the playoff hunt in the AL West.

Anibal Sanchez, SP, ATL (CBS: 17% owned Week 13) We haven’t seen numbers like this from Anibal Sanchez since 2013, when he plied his trade with the Tigers. In 11 starts with the Braves, the now 34-year-old has posted a 2.60 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. His 2018 renaissance has been a huge factor in the  Braves rise into a playoff contender in the NL East.

Honorable Mention: Joey Lucchesi, SP, SD (CBS: 14% owned Week 3), Zach Eflin, SP, PHI (CBS: 42% owned Week 8), Taylor Mahle, SP, CIN (CBS: 55% owned Week 4), Jose Urena, SP, MIA (CBS: 32% owned Week 4), Jaime Barria, SP, LAA (CBS: 4% owned Week 5), Eric Lauer, SP, SD (CBS: 3% owned Week 5), Freddy Peralta, SP, MIL (CBS: 4% owned Week 8), Walker Buehler, SP, LAD (CBS: 39% owned Week 5), Carlos Rodon, SP, CWS (CBS: 31% owned Week 9), Shane Bieber, SP, CLE (CBS: 7% owned Week 10), Steven Matz, SP, NYM (CBS: 47% owned Week 10), Dereck Rodriguez, SP, SF (CBS: 5% owned Week 15)

Relief Pitcher

bHector Rondon, RP, HOU (CBS: 4% owned Week 12): Yeah, we know that Shane Greene has eleven more saves than Rondon at the break, but it’s hard to ignore the far superior ERA and strikeout rates that Rondon posted in the first half. Ken Giles has been dispatched to the Minors for eternity, if not longer, leaving those early buyers on Rondon with not only a great first half in the bank, but also now owning the ninth inning man for one of the best teams in baseball down the stretch.

Honorable Mention: Shane Greene, RP, DET (CBS: 59% owned Week 3), Kyle Barraclough, RP, MIA (CBS: 23% owned Week 11), Seranthony Dominguez, RP, PHI (CBS: 4% owned Week 8), Joe Jimenez, RP, DET (CBS: 7% owned Week 5), Brad Brach, RP, BAL (CBS: 31% owned Week 8), Tyler Clippard, RP, TOR (CBS: 35% owned Week 15), Kyle Barraclough, RP, MIA (CBS: 29% owned Week 11), Joakim Soria, RP, CWS (CBS: 23% owned Week 12), Jordan Hicks, RP, STL (CBS: 24% owned Week 13), Jared Hughes, RP, CIN (CBS: 8% owned Week 10)

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2018 Mid Season Top 50 Prospects (1 through 25)

In doing prospect lists for now over five years, this is the first year that four out of the top five players are Latin-born.  If Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto would have had slightly fewer at-bats in the major leagues, it would have been six of seven.  Sure, there are a ton of Latin stars playing in the major leagues, but in the age of Fantasy Dynasty Leagues, owners MUST pay more attention to the J2 signing period every year and start to gamble on some of these players.  I understand there is not a ton information out there and while we will try our best to profiles these players as they are signed, one easy way is to invest as the major league teams are doing.  There is already a tremendous amount of risk acquiring a 16-year-old on your dynasty league, why not let the major league teams do the work for you.  If a team is investing millions of dollars in a 16-year-old, shouldn’t you acquire him for your team?

As shared last week when we posted number 26 through 50, our goal will be to do a Top 100 list next season.

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player. 



1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, Tor) – If it weren’t for an injury there is no telling what kind of numbers Vlad Jr. would have put up.  Regardless, he’s the best prospect and the game and has that Miggy Cabrera combination of power and hit-tool.



2. Victor Robles (OF, Was) – Juan Soto has made everyone forget about Victor Robles.  I still think the upside is still higher than Soto, particularly from a fantasy standpoint as he’ll add 20 plus stolen bases annually.  He just needs to get back on the field.


3. Fernando Tatis Jr. (OF, SD) – After a slow start, Fernando Tatis has been hot since the first of June.  There is both speed and power but the hit-tool still needs work as he strikes out too much and is very aggressive at the plate.  But at 19 years old and already in Double-A, the Padres will take it.


4. Nick Senzel (3B, Cin) – Nick Senzel hasn’t played much this year and after tearing a tendon in his finger, will not play the remainder of the year.  Hopefully, he’ll be in the Arizona Fall League so that the Fantasy hype machine can restart.  He has all the tools and reminds me a lot of Anthony Rendon with a half grade better in speed.  But, he needs to stay healthy…kind of like what we said about Rendon.


5. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHW) – Eloy Jimenez started the year of the DL as we get to our midseason list, he’s back on the DL.  In between, he’s hit over .300 with 14 home runs.  There’s easy power in his bat with a chance to hit for a .280 plus average.  There’s no speed but other than that, he’ll be an impact player for a long time.


6. Kyle Tucker (OF, Hou) – I’ve written about Kyle Tucker a lot and while I like the speed/power combination, I still worry about the hitch in his swing.  However, not enough for me to rank him out of the Top 10 on any list.  If there is one organization I trust, it’s the Astros and if they are good with him proceeding with his funky swing, well, I guess I am too…sort of…


7. Brendan Rodgers (SS, Col) – I continue to view Brendan Rodgers as an elite prospect.  Yes, I wish he was more patient at the plate and yes I wish he had more speed.  But, he has plus power that will play even bigger in Coors Field.  Don’t be surprised if he develops in a gulp, Nolan Arenado level player and perhaps at third if the Rockies are not able to sign Arenado long-term.


8. Forrest Whitley (RHP, Hou) – After serving a 50 game suspension for violating the minor league substance abuse policy, Forrest Whitley returned in fine fashion posting a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings with 25 strikeouts.  Unfortunately, he left his July 5th start with an oblique injury with no estimate given on how long he’ll be out.  The stuff is premium and even at 6-foot-7, he’s able to repeat his delivery and throw strikes.  While the injury and suspension are disappointing, he could still join the Astros at some point in the second half.  If not, he’ll be a nice backfill when the Astros are not able to resign one of their aces.


9. Royce Lewis (OF, Min) – Royce Lewis can really play.  He controls the strike zone very well and has double-plus speed and power that should develop once he fills out.  Since he is only in Low-A, he has all the makings of eventually being the number prospect in the game.


10. Bo Bichette (SS, Tor) – While all the talk has been about Vlad Jr., Bo Bichette has hit .273 with eight home runs and has stolen an impressive 25 bags.   The Blue Jays continue to play him at shortstop, but long-term, I see him at second or third.  Regardless, he has a chance to be a top offensive performer with 20/20 not out of the question particularly early in his career.


11. Alex Reyes (RHP, Stl) – I’m not sure what to say about Alex Reyes.  He returns from Tommy John Surgery to put up video game numbers in the minor leagues.  He’s promoted on May 30th and pitches four innings against the Brewers leaving with a torn oblique that ends his season.  Ugh…in fact, double Ugh!  Look, the stuff is electric and if he can control it, he’s an ace.  Let’s hope we see it next season.


12. Jo Adell (OF, LAA) – If you read our weekly “Hot Prospect” report, you know that Jo Adell has been a mainstay.  It’s been for good reason as he’s absolutely shoved it.  The tools are just crazy with a chance to develop 25 plus home run potential with 20 plus stolen bases.  The question, of course, is the hit tool.  He does strikeout a lot (25%) and is only walking 6% of the time.  But, he’s also only 19-years-old, so I’m betting he figures things out and at worse is a .260 hitter.


13. Keston Hiura (2B, Mil) – The book on Keston Hiura entering the 2017 draft was he could hit.  After 120 games and a .330 average, I think we can conclude…yeah, he can hit.  He’s making things look easy and could start to push for playing time in Milwaukee early in the 2019 season.


14. Mackenzie Gore (LHP, SD) – Mackenzie Gore has battled multiple blisters this year but when he’s pitched, it’s been electric.  He combines three plus pitches with a great delivery and assuming the blister problem can be solved, he should quickly move through the minor leagues.  He has ace potential.


15. Willy Adames (SS, TB) – Willy Adames has been starting for the Rays since early June but still qualifies for our list based on the number of at-bats.  While he hasn’t hit all that well, he controls the strike zone well and should be able to hit 20 plus home runs while adding double-digit stolen bases once he is fully acclimated to the big leagues.


16. Mike Soroka (RHP, Atl) – Mike Soroka exploded onto the big league stage with six innings, one earned run win against the Mets.  Sure it was the Mets, but he was dealing.  Since then, he’s been a little inconsistent, but with a sinking fastball that averages 93 MPH, he has the stuff to be a solid mid-rotation performer if not more.


17. Mitch Keller (RHP, Pit) – Mitch Keller is one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues and nobody is talking about him. While he has premium stuff, it hasn’t resulted in a ton of strikeouts.  The reason is the Pirates are having him work on his change-up and fastball command which from just seeing him a couple of weeks ago, is going quite well.  But he’s a Pirate, so unless he signs a team-friendly deal, don’t expect to see him on the big league roster until the second half of 2019.


18. Franklin Barreto (SS, Oak) – Could the third time have been the charm, or was it the fourth?  Over the past two-years, Franklin Baretto has been bouncing between Oakland and Nashville and I thought he might just stick after batting .282 with three home runs in 12 games.  But, he got sent back down.  I continue to be a huge fan of Barreto and believe it’s just a matter of time before he’s manning either shortstop or second for many years to come.


19. Francisco Mejia (C, Cle) – On June 1st, Francisco Mejia was hitting below the Mendosa Line.  For a lifetime .300 hitter in the minor leagues, it was a hard stat to wrap your head around.  But June arrived and so did Mejia’s bat.  In 22 games he hit .467 with a .739 SLG including four home runs.  The best news for fantasy owners is that he is getting a lot of time in the outfield.  Assuming he stays catcher eligible, which I think he does, the extra plate appearances should be a major benefit to fantasy owners.


20. Jesus Luzardo (LHP, Oak) – Yes, this is not a misprint.  I like Jesus Luardo this much.  Quite frankly, what’s not to like?  He started the year in the California League and after striking out 25 in 14.2 innings, the A’s promoted him to the Texas League.  He’s had equally as much success there, striking out 10 per nine while walking just over two.  It’s not command and control stuff either.  His fastball sits in the low 90’s and he can reach back for 95 when needed.  Oh yeah, he’s good…he’s really good.


21. Brent Honeywell (RHP, TB) – Brent Honeywell has been out all season recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Assuming he comes back healthy, he has the stuff to be a quality number two pitcher in the big leagues.  The risk has clearly increased and while TJ Surgery is never perfect, the odds are that he will come back to the form that made him one of the best pitching prospects in the game.


22. Hunter Greene (RHP, Cin) – On draft day, I thought the Twins should have drafted Hunter Greene number one overall.  After seeing Royce Lewis, I now get their selection, but after some early struggles, Hunter Greene is flashing the stuff that could put him at the top of the Reds rotation in a few years.  He lights on the radar gun with a double-plus fastball and has the secondary pitches to miss bats.  The ceiling is a one, but he’s still a teenager so a lot of innings are between now and when he finally gets the call.


23. Casey Mize (RHP, Det) – The Tigers made Casey Mize a very rich young man when they drafted the Auburn Tiger number one overall paying him a bonus of $7.5 million dollars.  He has premium stuff with a fastball that will hit 95 to 96 MPH with a nasty splitter that will miss a ton of bats.  There is concern over his elbow, but you can say that about most pitchers.  I doubt he plays this year but assuming health, he should move quickly through the system.


24. Sixto Sanchez (RHP, Phi) – Sixto Sanchez hit the DL on June 3rd with inflammation in his pitching elbow.  Uh oh!  Reports say he is rehabbing, but we’ve seen this story way too many times.  When healthy, he has some of the best stuff in the minor leagues with the chance to pitch at the top of the rotation in a couple of years for the Phillies.


25. Brendan McKay (LHP/1B, TB) – Brendan McKay continues to both pitch and hit as he works his way through the minor leagues.  While it would be cool to see him do both one day in the major leagues, he’s a better pitcher than a hitter and I think at some point, the Rays will have him focus on hitting his upside of a number two pitcher.  He started the year in Low-A and after posting video game numbers was promoted to High-A.  While the ERA is floating near five, the stuff is playing quite nicely.  He continues to strike out well over a batter an inning while demonstrating elite control.

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2018 Mid Season Top 50 Prospects (26 through 50)

The major league all-star week is nearly upon us, so it feels like a good time to update our prospect rankings.  We did not go with a full 100 (hopefully next season) but instead did a Top 50 with a nice write-up of each player.

I’ve been doing these list for over five years, and each year I think…well, that’s it.  All the good players are in the major leagues.  But, each year there are players, lots of players that are progressing just as well as the players before them.  Sure, there’s unlikely a Mike Trout on the list, but there are plenty of all-stars and probably an MVP or two.

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player. 



26. Taylor Trammell (OF, Cin)
– I play in five Dynasty Leagues and own Taylor Trammel in four of them.  Based on the trade offers I get for him, I know that owners do not value him as one of the best prospects in the game.  Perhaps I’m overvaluing him, but I don’t think so.  He’s a plus runner (currently not a great base stealer) and as he fills out, I think he develops plus power.  Now, he could slow down, but he could be a 20/20 guy…who can hit.  He has a 19% strikeout rate and a 13% walk rate.  It could all spell a high average and OBP.  So, if you are a fantasy owner, congratulations, you will likely have a Top 25 prospect entering 2019.



27. Yordan Alvarez (OF, Hou)
– After spending five weeks on the disabled list, Yordan Alvarez hit the ground running and made quick work of Double-A posting a .981 OPS with 11 home runs and five stolen bases.  The problem, of course, is he’s blocked all over the place in Houston.  The Astros have moved him to the outfield, but that didn’t help much as not only are the Astros stacked in the outfield in the majors, they have Derek Fisher in Triple-A and uber-prospect Kyle Tucker sitting in front of him.  As is always the case, playing time usually gets worked out.  It’s a good thing too, as Alvarez is becoming one of the best prospects in the game.



28. Michael Kopech (RHP, CHW)
– Last fall, I moved to Charlotte from the great state of New Jersey…er, well, it’s a state…  Anyway, my new home ballpark is now in Charlotte and I’ve had a chance to see Michael Kopech pitch a ton.  I’m worried.  First, he throws hard, although I’ve not seen the 105 that everyone talked about last year, he just does not throw strikes.  He loses his release point during games and after looking good for three innings, can easily walk three in a row to get into a heap of trouble.  It’s a problem and I’m downshifting just a little on him.  I also think there is a non-zero chance he becomes a reliever.  Now, it could be a lock-down closer, but in order to reach his potential, he needs to find a more consistent release point so he can improve his control.



29. Kyle Wright (RHP, Atl)
– Even with their recent promotions, the Braves are still stacked in the minor leagues, particularly with pitching.  Kyle Wright, who I believed was the most big league ready pitcher to come out of the 2017 draft has had an inconsistent year in Double-A.  He’s shown good swing and miss stuff but has also walked nearly four per nine.  It’s still the profile of at least a solid number three pitcher with the chance to be more.



30. Leody Taveras (OF, Tex)
– When you are only batting .230, it takes courage to put a place a player at number 30 on any prospect list.  But I still believe in Leody Taveras.  He’s a toolbox that is suffering from a low BABIP.  While I believe that a players BABIP will correct in the major leagues to his personal BABIP or roughly league average +/-, I also believe in the lower minor leagues, it could actually highlight a problem.  In Taveras’ case, he’s rolling over a lot on his pitches which is causing him to beat a lot of balls into the ground on weak contact.  I think he learns to drive pitches better as he continues to grow.  Hopefully, the Rangers won’t push him too much as I do believe he needs quality at-bats at the appropriate level.



31. Justus Sheffield (LHP, NYY)
– Justus Sheffield has had a great season.  He had no trouble with Double-A pitching to a 2.25 ERA while striking out over 12 per nine and he has posted a sub 3.0 ERA in Triple-A.  But if you dig into the numbers, he’s walked over four per nine.  In other words, if he were to get promoted to the big leagues, it would probably end poorly.  I believe he has a number three, maybe a number two starter profile but first, he needs to throw more strikes.



32. Alex Verdugo (OF, LAD)
– I continue to be a big fan of Alex Verdugo as he can flat out hit.  I still believe the power grows into a 20 home run threat in a few years and when you combine that with a handful of stolen bases, he’s going to be a nice number three outfielder on a fantasy team.



33. Adrian Morejon (LHP, SD)
– Don’t sleep on Adrian Morejon.  The 6-foot lefty’s fastball can scrape 94 to 95 with quality secondary pitches and the best part, he throws strikes.  The command is not there yet but that should come as he moves through the system.  He’s currently on the DL with some muscle soreness but should be back as we get deeper into July.



34. Peter Alonso (NYM, 1B)
–Peter Alonso absolutely shoved it in Double-A this year, posting a 1.023 OPS in 63 games and a quick ticket to Las Vegas to continue his path to the major leagues.  Unfortunately, things have not gone well in Triple-A to-date, but a .209 BABIP will do that.  What impresses me the most about Alonso is his ability to control the strike zone.  Throw in plus raw power and the profile looks like a full-time regular.



35. Keibert Ruiz (C, LAD)
– I finally got a chance to see Keibert Ruiz live this year and came away very impressed.  The swing is short and compact with very good bat speed.  He just has natural bat-to-ball skills and that has been on display in Double-A.  Sure, the batting average is .230 but his strikeout rate is sitting at 7.7%.  That’s Altuvian!  The biggest problem with his batting average is his .241 BABIP, so I’m not too worried.  Throw-in that he’s a switch hitter and only 19-years-old and already in Double-A, and you can argue that I have him too low on this list.



36. Jesus Sanchez (OF, TB)
– As a 20-year-old playing in the Florida State League, Jesus Sanchez is handling things quite well.  He’s showing power and a little bit of speed but is also showing an extremely aggressive approach at the plate.  In 69 games, he’s walked 12 times.  But he’s very young and there is a lot of time left for him to develop his approach at the plate.



37. Alex Kirilloff (OF, Min)
– After missing the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, Alex Kiriloff hit the ground running to begin the 2018 season.  In 62 games in Low-A, he posted a 1.019 with 12 home runs.  The sledding has gotten more difficult upon his promotion to High-A but he has only been there for three weeks.  When you see Kiriloff, you can quickly see the smooth left-handed swing and the leverage he gets.  Assuming his swing does not get too long, he could not only hit for plus power but also a .280 plus batting average.



38. AJ Puk (LHP, Oak)
– I was worried about AJ Puk when the A’s selected him sixth overall in the 2016 MLB Draft.  I thought at 6-foot-7, he would struggle to throw strikes and while he’ll never be Greg Maddux, he’s averaged a reasonable 3.42 walk-per-nine rate in his professional career.  What he brings is a power delivery with a plus slider and a change-up that is developing quite nicely.  The results of his premium arsenal is an impressive 12.79 career strikeout rate.  Unfortunately, he’s missing the entire 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, but assuming he comes back healthy, there’s a lot to like.



39. Willie Calhoun (OF, Tex)
– I got it wrong with Willie Calhoun.  I thought we would see him in Texas by now but clearly, the Rangers have a different timeframe.  After back-to-back 20 home run seasons (27, 23 respectively), the power has been absent so far this year.  However, the contact is still as great as ever and I still maintain we are looking at an above-average offensive player with a chance to hit .280 with 20 home runs and a handful of stolen bases.  Defensively, it’s still a struggle.  The Rangers have pushed him to left field and with his offensive upside, I think the bat will play enough for him to get regular at-bats, perhaps by August.


40. Luis Robert (OF, CHW) – The White Sox held Luis Robert back to begin the season and then had him start the year in Low-A, Kannapolis where he played well in his brief 11 game stay.  After his promotion to High-A, he hit the DL with a knee injury and hasn’t played yet in July.  If you like tools, then Luis Robert is your guy.  He’s big, strong, athletic with plus raw power and good foot speed.  Physically, he’s similar to Yoan Moncada but in limited action, controls the strike zone much better.  Then again, that’s not saying much as Moncada leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts, ahead of Joey Gallo, Chris Davis, and Aaron Judge.


41. Estevan Florial (OF, NYY) – In the era of premium power with tons of strikeouts, Estevan Florial fits right in. He’s got double-plus raw power but his swing gets long and strikeouts follow.  It’s been a disappointing year for the 20-year-old Yankees outfielder as he missed the last six weeks recovering from hamate surgery.  Before then, he didn’t play well in High-A.  In 34 games, he only hit one home run but struck out 30% of the time.  It’s clearly a small sample size and we have to remember, he’s only 20.  I’m not expecting much in the second half from Florial in terms of power so perhaps this will give him a chance to work on his contactability.


42. Nick Madrigal (2B, CHW) – As a 5-foot-7 second baseman with natural bat-to-ball skills, Nick Madrigal will likely be compared to Jose Altuve.  While I get it as both are short players who can hit, Altuve has an MVP on the books and multiple all-star game appearances.  Putting that pressure on Madrigal is just not fair.  That said, there is a ton to like about him.  He can flat out hit and has premium speed.  He has well below average current power and his swing path doesn’t really point to any future power, but with his ability to make hard contact, there should be plenty of doubles with a chance to slug in the low 400s.  While he’s currently playing shortstop, I think his natural position will be second or perhaps even center field given his below-average arm strength.


43. Michel Baez (RHP, SD) – Aside from his last outing, Michel Baez has pitched very well in the difficult pitching confines of the California League.  As 6-foot-8, Baez brings a power arsenal with a fastball that sits 93 to 95 MPH and can touch higher.  His slider is starting to become a real weapon with his change-up still needing some work.  The best part of the package is his ability to throw strikes.  You can argue that a 3.86 walk-per-nine rate is poor, but given his size, it’s a great place to start.  Many kids his size and throwing as hard as he does, have a 5.00 plus walk rate and are bound for the bullpen (see Tyler Glasnow).  Baez is some refinement away from being a top 25 prospect.


44. Ryan McMahon (1B, Col) – Sigh.  I really bought into Ryan McMahon this year and boy, did he let me down.  It wasn’t all his fault as the Rockies played him haphazardly in April and after five weeks and 80 at-bats, demoted him.  They brought him back in late May and have demoted him again after not catching fire.  It’s the problem when you are trying to catch on when you are on contending team, but then again, both the Yankees and Astros seem to have no problem giving young players plenty of time to develop and settle-in at the big league level.  Maybe McMahon is not as good as I thought?  Perhaps, but I still like the combination of power and the ability to hit that one day, he will get regular and consistent at-bats at the big league level.


45. Joey Bart (C, SF) – The Giants were looking to the future when they selected Joey Bart with the second overall pick in June.  With Posey now 31 and signed for three more years, the transition to Bart should play out nicely in 2021.   Bart is not Posey though, at least Posey in his prime.  First, he has plus raw power but does not have nearly the level of hit-tool that Posey has.  His swing gets long and he can be aggressive at the plate.  Defensive, he grades out as solid to above-average with a plus arm and pop times.


46. Ian Anderson (RHP, Atl) – With all the pitching depth in the Atlanta system, Ian Anderson sometimes gets overlooked.  The Braves surprised the industry by selecting him number three overall in the 2016 draft, but he’s done nothing to contradict that he was actually worth such a high pick.  In 14 starts in High-A, he’s pitching to a 3.13 ERA, striking out over 11 per nine.  His control is still not where the Braves want it as he’s walking nearly four per nine.  However, the results are still impressive.


47. Julio Pablo Martinez (OF, Tex) – The next uber-athletic Cuban émigré has arrived and his name is Julio Pablo Martinez.  The Rangers forked over a $2.8 million dollar signing bonus and have taken it slowly so far with the 22-year-old as he looks to knock off the rust.  He began the season in the DSL but after six games was moved to the Northwest League where despite a low batting average has hit a couple of home runs with four stolen bases.  He has double-plus speed, plus raw power but the swing gets long so strikeouts could be a problem.  As opposed to some of the other notable recent Cuban players, he’s physically different.  Puig, Cespedes, Moncada, and Robert are all chiseled big athletes (more football player than baseball player).  Martinez is smaller and already filled out.  In other words, he’s likely now the player physically that he will be.  But you know, that could be a very good player and perhaps even a better player than those who have come before him.


48. Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP, NYY) – Jonathan Loaisiga was one my pop-up guy for the year.  The kid threw hard, had very good secondary stuff and threw strikes.  In 35 starts in the minor league, he’s walked 24.  Plus, the Yankees protected him, in a very deep system, because they were concerned that someone would claim him during the Rule 4 draft.  Well, it all worked out as Loaisiga continued to develop and shove it until he was called up to the big leagues to make his major league debut.  In four starts, he won two games and pitched to a 3.00 ERA.  Look, I don’t believe he’s a top of the rotation guy, although his stuff and control might say different.  But at 5-feet-11 and pitching in Yankees stadium, he could be homer-prone and that pushes his upside down.  It’s a great story and a reminder of why I do this kind of work.  I love finding these jewels, writing about them and then seeing them succeed at the highest level.


49. Chris Paddack (RHP, SD) – Chris Paddack was shoving it two years ago when he felt a twinge in his elbow which quickly led to Tommy John surgery.  After nearly two years, Paddack made his return and quite frankly has shoved it since returning.  Part of his success is coming from a double-plus change-up that lower-level minor league hitters just can’t handle.  As he moves into Double-A and beyond, the 14 strikeout rate will settle back and he’ll have to rely more on fastball command and his curveball which is still a work-in-progress.  He’s not an ace, but with elite control, a wipe pitch in his change-up, he could emerge as a Tyler Mahle type of success story.


50. Austin Riley (3B, Atl) – I think the hype machine has gotten out of control with Austin Riley.  Perhaps putting him at number 50, I’m simply stoking the fire.  I do think he’s a big leaguer with massive raw power, but his strikeout rate is on the brink of alarming.  Sure, he’s hitting .311, but it comes with a .419 BABIP.  He’s still young with a lot of time for improvement, but I just don’t think he’s ready, this year or maybe even next year to contribute at a high-level in the major leagues.

 

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Waiver Wire – Week 16

Familiar themes highlight our waiver wire this week.  Closers, more closers as well as under the radar players that could provide some much-needed stats.  Sure, there’s Mr. Souza and uber-prospect Kyle Tucker on the list, but they are owned in all but the most shallow leagues.  But, if you’re looking for some way under-the-radar names, this could be your week.

The list can be found here.

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Hot Prospects – Week 13

Last week we spoke about the crème rises to the top.  This week, we could say the same thing.  Akil Baddoo was one of the players I really liked entering the season and after a tough spring, is starting to put things together.  The same thing could be said with two more famous prospects, Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Meija.  Both are really starting to heat up with Mejia having a good chance to see the big leagues later in the summer.

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player. 

Akil Baddoo (OF, Min, Low-A) – One of my picks to click this year was Akil Baddoo.  In short-season ball last year, he showed an ability to control the strike zone with some speed and pop.  Over the first 50 games this year though, Baddoo performance aligned with his name.  As the weather warmed in June, so did his bat as he’s hit .300 since mid-June and .412 since the beginning of July.  He’s cut down his strikeouts and is walking 16% of the time.  I continue to be very bullish on Baddoo and could see him sneak into the back half of my Top 100 list going into 2019.

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, SD, Double-A) – Fernando Tatis early season troubles seem fully in his rearview mirror.  He finished the month of June with a flurry, batting .301 with eight home runs and eight stolen bases for the month.  He still strikes out too much and has an ugly 102:37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 358 plate appearances.  But, he’ll play the entire season as a 19-years-old, making him the second youngest player in the Texas League.  Net-net, Tatis could and should develop into an All-star performer.

Francisco Mejia (C, CLE, Triple-A) – On June 1st, Francisco Mejia was hitting below the Mendosa Line.  For a lifetime .300 hitter in the minor leagues, it was a hard stat to wrap your head around.  But June arrived and so did Mejia’s bat.  In 22 games he hit .467 with a .739 SLG including four home runs.  The best news for fantasy owners is that he is getting a lot of time in the outfield.  Assuming he stays catcher eligible, which I think he does, the extra plate appearances should be a major benefit to fantasy owners.

Royce Lewis (OF, Min, Low-A) – Royce Lewis makes our list again.  That happens when you hit over .300 in each month showing power and speed.  He’s clearly showing why the Twins made him the number one overall pick in last year’s draft.  He’s likely ready for a promotion, but don’t be surprised if they do not promote him to High-A until the end of August or even next year.  The quick ascension of Byron Buxton must still be very fresh in their mind and the challenges that have been presented once he was promoted to the Big Leagues.

Julio Rodriguez (OF, Sea, DSL) – I’ve been intrigued with Julio Rodriguez since the Mariners signed him last year for a cool $1.75 million dollars signing bonus.  He still has yet to make his US Debut but is hitting .340 in 25 games in the Dominican Summer League, walking nearly as many times as he’s struck out.  For dynasty league owners, you need to embrace what is happening.  Many of the elite players are coming through Latin America and while you have to grab them and hold on to them for sometimes five or more years, the payoff can be huge.  I like to look for guys who can hit with power upside.  That defines Rodriguez and why I’m starting to add him to my Dynasty Leagues in which he is still eligible.

Kevin Cron (OF, Ari, Triple-A) – Kevin Cron, C.J.’s little brother has had a nice season-to-date.  In 52 games, he’s posted a .928 OPS with 14 home runs.  He crushes lefties but does struggle against right-handed batters.   That’s clearly not what you want to hear as it might suggest a platoon player long-term.  But he has clear pop with a bit more plate patience than his older brother.

JoJo Romero (LHP, Phi, Double-A) – It’s been an uneven season for JoJo Romero.  I aggressively ranked the 6-foot lefty #68 entering this season and while he’s shown flashes, he’s lacked the consistency that we saw last season in Clearwater.  Part of the problem is Double-A is a big jump and the other part is Reading is a difficult place to pitch, especially for left-handers.  To emphasize the point, he owns a 3.49 ERA on the road and a 5.65 ERA at home.  His last outing at home against Erie was dominating though.  In six innings, he gave up four hits, one run while striking out eight and walking only two.

Hunter Greene (RHP, Cin, Low-A) – As the summer wears on, Hunter Greene is rounding into the pitcher the Reds thought when they selected him number two overall in last year’s draft.  In his last two starts, he’s pitched 13 innings, giving up five hits, allowing one run while striking out 17 and walking two.  He’s got that unique combination of athleticism, premium stuff and makeup that should give him every opportunity to pitch at the top of the Reds rotation in three years.

Ian Anderson (RHP, Atl, High-A) – With all the pitching depth in the Atlanta system, Ian Anderson sometimes gets overlooked.  The Braves surprised the industry by selecting him number three overall in the 2016 draft, but he’s done nothing to contradict that he was actually worth such a high pick.  In 14 starts in High-A, he’s pitching to a 3.13 ERA, striking out over 11 per nine.  His control is still not where the Braves want it as he’s walking nearly four per nine.  However, the results are still impressive.  In his last start early this week, he pitched six shutout innings giving up three hits while striking out 11 and walking just one.

Jhonathan Diaz (LHP, Bos, Low-A) – While the Red Sox system is down compared to just a few years ago when Betts, Benetendi, and Boagarts were making their way through.  However, there is still talent and Venezuelan lefty Jhonathan Diaz could emerge as one of them.  He throws a heavy fastball that gets plenty of ground balls with a curveball and change-up that have both improved this year.  The results are impressive.  In 15 starts, he’s pitched to a 3.66 ERA, striking out over a batter an inning while walking 2.4 per nine.  He’s really picked it up since June pitching to a 2.50 ERA in five starts, striking out 28 while walking four.