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2020 First Mock Draft

cropped-Simple-P361-Avatar-e1518320858829It’s never too early to take a look at 2020, and with that in mind, we assembled a group to do just that. Our thanks to Peter Kreutzer, Bob High, Robert Mirshak, and Dylan White for taking the time to share their early thoughts on the first five rounds of a fantasy draft.

The rules were straight forward. We did five Rounds of a standard 5×5 League using rotating picks. The end result….fascinating, to say the least!

Round 1

1. Ronald Acuna (Atl, OF)

Number one is no longer automatic.  With Trout’s steals down, this youngster takes the top spot in fantasy.

2. Mike Trout (LAA, OF)

45 HR, 107 R, 102 RBI, and a .437 OBP says don’t let this big fish fall any further.

3. Christian Yelich (Mil, OF)

Currently the top player in fantasy baseball.  I like the 3rd draft slot this year.

4. Cody Bellinger (LAD, OF/1B)

40-100 with 10-15 thefts. A great consolation prize when you miss out on the Top-3.

5. Mookie Betts (Bos, OF)

Last year’s number two pick is this year’s number five.  Could there be value here?

6. Nolan Arenado (Col, 3B)

Consistently excellent at the hot corner and the plate.

7. Juan Soto (Was, OF)

At age 20, from 32 HR to 12 SB the future is now

8. Francisco Lindor (Cle, SS)

He missed the first 3 weeks of the season and was, therefore, slow out of the block.  Yet, he’s still the best shortstop.  Plus, he’s only 25.  Very few true five-category guys.

9. Freddie Freeman (Atl, 1B)

Strong across the board at a position that is neither deep nor strong in talent.

10. Trevor Story (Col, SS)

Power, speed, Coors

11. Rafael Devers (Bos, 3B)

He’s young and really raked this season.  The power and hit-tool look real, but the speed?  Not sure…

12. Alex Bregman (Hou, 3B/SS)

33 HR, 22 more K’s than BB, position flex in a great lineup.

13. Gerrit Cole (Hou, SP)

Age concerns about Verlander and Scherzer have Cole on top of my pitcher list.  Risk:  Where will he sign?

14. Trea Turner (Was, SS)

The need for speed…

15. Justin Verlander (Hou, SP)

The ageless wonder might be getting better.

Round 2

16. JD Martinez (Bos, OF)

Consistent year in and year out, though age starting to be a worry.

17. Pete Alonso (NYM, 1B)

The need for power….I’ll live with the potential low batting average to acquire 45-50 dingers at first base.

18. Jose Ramirez (Cle, 3B)

Improved 2nd half..back to normal?  Did he just have a mental block or was hurt?  The good news is he seemed to figure it out as the season progressed. He went as the fifth pick last year.  Could he be a bargain this year?

19. Jake deGrom (NYM, SP)

One of the best pitchers in the game.  At 31, he’s still on the younger size and still striking out batters in bunches (11 K/9)

20. Starling Marte (Pit, OF)

He’ll provide some speed with a nice power boost too.

21. Max Scherzer (Was, SP)

Last of the big four starting pitchers.  300ish strikeouts still plays. But is father time starting to catch up with him?

22. Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD, SS)

22 HR, 16 SB, as a 20-year-old in a pinch more than half of a season. 35-20 in 2020??

23. Walker Buehler (LAD, SP)

He delivered what was promised in 2019 and there should be more in the tank.  More innings may mean he competes for the #1 overall pitcher.  He still only 25.

24. Xander Bogaerts (Bos, SS)

He slugged 31 HR this season. He’s also tied for the Major League lead with 49 doubles. At 26, he has taken a big step in a potent lineup.

25. Vlad Guerrero Jr. (Tor, 3B)

I need speed, but I’m drawn to talent.

26. Bryce Harper (Was, OF)

Every year: “this will be the year!”

27. Jack Flaherty (Stl, SP)

The 2019 second half. That’s all.

28. Anthony Rendon (Was, 3B)

I’m an average freak.  Batting .335.  No longer a big injury risk.  According to CBS, he’s the sixth-best hitter in Fantasy.

29. Jonathan Villar (Bal, 2B)

20 HR and 33 SB.  He’s number 11on the ESPN player rater. Few players have his power-speed combo.

30. Javier Baez (CHC, SS)

Super consistent, and with health comes upside.

Round 3

31. Clayton Kershaw (LAD, SP)

If you’re picking at the wheel in a traditional 15-team snake draft and don’t have your fantasy ace, you have to make that move now.  Perhaps, Kershaw is not what he once was, but he’s proven more than capable, even with lower velocity.

32. Mike Clevinger (Cle, SP)

Mike Clevinger missed a lot of time but still managed to post a 2.71 ERA.  That was supported by 2.38 xFIP, not to mention a 13 K/9 ratio.

33. Shane Bieber (Cle, SP)

He’s listed as the number three pitcher on CBS and is only 24.  He’s third in Ks, FIP, AND xFIP showing the breakout is solid.  However, the BABIP is low, implying there could be some modest correction next season.

34. Jose Altuve (Hou, 2B)

He’s not who he once was, but potentially a huge bargain in the third round.

35. Adalberto Mondesi (KC, SS)

He’s stolen 68 bags in last calendar year. Speed kills…but hopefully not the batting average.

36. Luis Castillo (Cin, SP)

Castillo stepped up in 2019 to post a 3.21 ERA with 14 wins. Perhaps there are other “ace” options here, maybe with a better team, maybe with a better ballpark. Maybe.

37. Eugenio Suarez (Cin, 3B)

Suarez enjoyed the juiced ball hitting 44 home runs and driving in 95 runs so far this season. That is a significant improvement over what he did in 2018.  If the ball is changed, will his stats regress?  Perhaps, but for now, he just gets better.

38. Ketel Marte (Ari, OF)

Marte will finish with around 35 hrs, 12 steals, and a .325 avg.  He is 25 years old.  Plus, I believe there is upside in the steals department.

39. Josh Bell (Pit, 1B)

There is only a handful of first baseman that stands out. If you can get two on one team, that spells trouble for someone(s).

40. Yordan Alvarez (Hou, DH)

Sophomore jinx?  More like sophomore jacks!

41. Charlie Morton (TB, SP)

Our definition of ace is changing a bit. Morton is a late bloomer but proven effective. I debated about one other starter, and I could be wrong.

42. Gleyber Torres (NYY, SS/2B)

At just 22, 35 HR, 84 RBIs with position flex in a powerful lineup.

43. Aaron Judge (NYY, OF)

He’s been injured the last two years and yet the metrics continue to show great things.    The oblique injury lingered this year.  With health and that lineup…

44. Lucas Giolito (CHW, SP)

It took a while, but Lucas Giolito is starting to live up to his draft hype.

45. Whit Merrifield (KC, 2B)

He took a step back this year, but at the end of the third round, options for stolen bases are quickly diminishing.

Round 4

46. Charlie Blackmon (Col, OF)

He’s a Coors phenomenon and provided he stays there, he’s solid.

47. Bo Bichette (Tor, SS)

The total package. Bo knows baseball!

48. Austin Meadows (TB, OF)

Good things are happening to players who get out of Pittsburgh.  Meadows power really broke out, thanks in part to the ball.  However, there’s an interesting power-speed profile here.

49. George Springer (Hou, OF)

In a full season, his numbers equate to 47 home runs and 125 runs and RBI; with a .385 OBP.

50. Carlos Correa (Hou, SS)

Assuming he’s healthy, he’s got to be considered post-hype at this point. But he’s 25 and it’s time for him to put it all together.

51. Anthony Rizzo (CHC, 1B)

When did Rizzo get boring?  The middle of the fourth round for this level of consistency has significant value.

52. Patrick Corbin (Was, SP)

Back-to-back 200+ strikeouts with a low 3 ERA. There’s no reason to believe it shouldn’t be more of the same.

53. Gary Sanchez (NYY, C)

I’ll take 40 home runs from the catcher in the fourth round.  He has also been unlucky with a .240 BABIP.  His XBA shows a .259 average.

54. Blake Snell (TB, SP)

The 2018 Cy Young winner had 3.16 xFIP in 2018, a 3.24 this year. Plus, he’s striking out 12 per nine. That spells Ace in my book.

55. Amed Rosario (NYM, SS)

He’s already showing speed and power and I believe the hit tool will continue to improve.  It better, as a .300 OBP hurts in some league formats.

56. Stephen Strasburg (Was, SP)

He stayed healthy this year and returned to ace status.  Will health continue?  Was his ability to opt-out a motivator for pitching through things?  Time will tell, but when he’s out there, he’s a fantasy ace.

57. Victor Robles (Was, OF)

One of the last power-speed players and we are only in the fourth round. He’s young and should only get better.  20-30 is still the ceiling.

58. Noah Syndergaard (NYM, SP)

Look at his 2nd half numbers…

59. Giancarlo Stanton (NYY, OF)

Yes, 2019 was a disaster, but in 2017 and 18, he averaged 48 home runs and 116 RBIs.  If he’s healthy, it’s a huge bargain at the back of the fourth round.

60. Michael Brantley (Hou, OF)

Batting average in this day and age has value when it comes with production.

Round 5

61. JT Realmuto (Phi, C)

Having one excellent catcher is a big help.

62. Jose Abreu (CHW, 1B)

He’s not flashy, but I’ll take 31 home runs and 112 RBI to fill a very weak position in the fifth round.

63. Manny Machado (SD, 3B/SS)

He qualifies at both third and short next season.  The average is down a tad but I will bet it comes back in his second year in San Diego.

64. Aaron Nola (Phi, SP)

Getting 220+ K’s in the fifth round. Sold!

65. Shohei Ohtani (LAA, DH/SP)

Even if he’s just a hitter, I’m ok with this spot.

66. Eddie Rosario (Min, OF)

He swings at everything, but it’s working as he should hit 30 home runs in 2019 with a solid .273 average.  You know, it looks a lot like Adam Jones in his prime.

67. Matt Olson (Oak, 1B)

The hamate injury didn’t sap this 25-year old’s power, 31 home runs in 111 games

68. Paul Goldschmidt (Stl, 1B)

Terrible start to the season but after May he has been really good minus the stolen bases.

69. Ozzie Albies (Atl, 2B)

Power-speed combo at second, and I believe there is still upside.

70. Keston Hiura (Mil, 2B)

.280 25-15 at second base?  Sold.  Yeah, I know that he struck out 30% of the time, but he’s only 23 and assuming the Brewers give him the job outright out of spring training, I’m expecting better contact.

71. Andrew Benintendi (Bos, OF)

He shattered a lot of fantasy dreams this year as he didn’t build on his sophomore year. Hopefully, there are better things coming next season.

72. Tyler Glasnow (TB, SP)

2.15 ERA with an 80-grade fastball. If healthy, he could be an elite pitcher in 2020.

73. Kris Bryant (CHC, 3B)

It’s the second year in a row that injuries have caused missed time and regressive stats.  Is this a trend?  I’m hoping not.  With health, this is a huge bargain in the fifth round.

74. Joey Gallo (Tex, OF)

Juiced ball, dead ball, ping pong ball. It doesn’t matter. He’ll launch 40+ into the stands.

75. Chris Sale (Bos, SP)

PRP or not. I can’t let him fall past 75. Even in the post-Dombrowski-firing haze of Beantown.

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Hot Prospects – Week 22

HOT PROSPECTS 1The minor league system officially finished on Monday with the playoffs ramping up later this week.  It seemed like the season just started yesterday, but nearly 300 players later, it’s over.  We encourage you to use these updates for research as you plan your off-season drafts.  Simply use the search box on the site to look for players or the updates.

HITTERS

1. Noelvi Marte (Sea, SS, DSL)

Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS with extreme risk

Tools Summary: Toolsy middle infielder who is showing the ability to hit

Noelvi Marte has appeared on our Hidden Five list and a couple of weeks back, on the main list.  He slumped in July but can roaring back in August to hit .423.  For the year, he hit .307 with a .371 OBP.  He showed excellent power and speed potential by swatting nine home runs and stealing 17 bags.

There’s a lot to get excited about with Marte as he has plus speed with excellent bat speed and a chance to hit for above-average future power.  At 17-years-old and still playing in the Dominican Summer League, it’s hard to get a great read on his hitting ability, but he’s kept his strikeouts under control (19% K/9) while also getting his walks (10% BB/9).  He’s currently playing shortstop and should be able to stay at the position given his athleticism, but if not, a move to second should work as well.

2. Andrew Knizner (Stl, C, Majors)

Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2019 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 catcher

Tools Summary: Nice hit tool with 15 to 18 home run potential. The obvious concern is when he will get a full-time job in St. Louis?

Andrew Knizner, like Carson Kelly before him, is the designated catcher behind Yadier Molina.  How long will that be?  Molina is signed through 2020 and will be 37 years-old and despite some skill erosion, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to play for a few more years.  If that happens, the Cardinals will be put in a difficult spot.  Would they really take playing time away from an all-time Cardinal great?  I don’t know, but Knizner can play and deserves more playing time than he will likely get.

Knizner had another strong offensive year across Triple-A and the Major Leagues in 2019.  In 66 games in Triple-A, he hit 12 homer runs while continuing to control the strike zone very well.  He only struck out 13% of the time while walking 8.6% of the time.  The chance for him to hit for a high batting average and on-base percentage makes him an intriguing catching option for fantasy players.  Sure, I don’t see 20 to 25 home runs, but for a full Major League season, he could slash .270/.340/.425 with 15 to 18 home runs.  That’s a very nice fantasy option provided he gets the playing time.

He slugged .571 in August to finish up the Triple-A season and then hit a home run in his first game back in the Major Leagues.

3. Riley Adams (Tor, C, Double-A)

Taken in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Riley Adams has been having a solid season in the Eastern League.  In 81 games, he’s hit 11 home runs with a .354 OBP.  Over the past week, he smacked three homers and looks to be ready for Triple-A.  There is a lot of swing and miss in his game and therefore, he profiles as more of a backup catcher than a front-line starter.

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Backup Catcher

Tools Summary: Power over hit tool but with the number of strikeouts he is producing, he might not hit enough to get to his power.

4. Tyler Nevin (Col, 1B, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 1B

Tools Summary: Swing is more geared to contact but he’s now been put at first.  He did hit eight home runs in August which is encouraging.

After having a nice season in the California League in 2018 and following that up with being named the MVP in the Fall League, Tyler Nevin wasn’t able to build on that momentum.  After showing some nice pop, he regressed to posting a .398 SLG in Double-A.  Part of that was just moving to a more neutral hitting environment and the other factor is his swing is more geared to contact than power.  Then again, he hit eight of his 13 home runs in August.  Did he change his swing path or did he get lucky?

The calculus in predicting the upside of Nevin is challenging.  He makes great contact and does not expand the strike zone.  His strikeout rate was 17% and his walk rate was 12%.  While he’s far from a burner, he will also steal the occasional bag.  I do think he’ll have average power in the 18 to 20 range, but the Rockies have moved him to first and this could prove problematic for him being a viable fantasy asset.  But, he’ll play half his games in Coors Field which could add another four of five home runs.

For now, I still see Nevin as a soft regular in fantasy.  Will he join the Launch Angle revolution?  Will the ball get de-juiced?  In the end, in a neutral park, I see a .270/.340/.430 performer with 15 to 20 home runs.

5. Taylor Trammell (SD, OF, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF

Tools Summary: Double-plus runner with a chance to hit for some power.  On-base over Batting Average player.  A chance to be an impact fantasy contributor.

Despite an underwhelming season, first with the Reds and then the Padres, in my opinion, Taylor Trammell continues to be one of the best prospects in the game.  Plus, the Padres gave up two very good players in Franmill Reyes and Logan Allen to acquire him at the deadline.  While you might discount Reyes as simply a full-time DH, which is likely his path, the fact is he hit 30 home runs in the big leagues.

First, let’s talk about Trammell’s performance in 2019.  In 126 games in Double-A, he slashed .234/.340/.349 with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases.  While fantasy owners will like the 20 steals, the .349 SLG is concerning and actually a little surprising.  He has good bat speed with a short, compact swing and while I don’t see a .500 SLG in his profile, I do think he could slug .425 with 15 to 20 home runs.

What he did continue to do in 2019 was show good contact (23% K/9), take his walks (13% BB/9), run, and play great defense.  While his strikeout rate is a little high, I do believe he will add another 100 points in on-base percentage and that should allow him to hit at the top of the lineup.  As a double-plus runner, he’s going to steal a lot of bases.  A .260/.350/.425 slash line with 12 home runs and 30 stolen bases should be a good baseline for fantasy owners.

He did finish the year strong going 9 for 19 with 2 home runs.

6. Justin Williams (Stl, OF, Triple-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 75 OF

Tools Summary: A lot of 50 tools but has never put it together until the last six weeks.

I saw Justin Williams play in several games in the Fall League when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays.  He was athletic with a nice swing and I thought there could be something there.  Plus, he just looks the part.  Since then, he just hasn’t hit until the last six weeks.  In 36 games, he’s hitting .364 with seven home runs.  It’s likely Triple-A, but we thought that about Aquino and he that story has had quite a second chapter.

7. Mike Siani (Cin, OF, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF

Tools Summary: Plus speed with good contact.   Average at-best power

Mike Siani was number 13 on our Top 15 list last year and we noted…” we use to publish an ‘emerging prospect by system’ and if we were still doing that, Mike Siani would fit the category perfectly.”  Well, 2019 showed that our analysis was not far off.

The skills are clearly alluring.  In 54 games, while he’s only hit .224, he’s posted a respectable .330 OBP with four home runs and 19 stolen bases.  He doesn’t have a ton of power and while he has strong wrist with plenty of bat speed, the swing is more geared to contact.  I think that will work just fine as I think he will hit, despite his low batting average and of course the plus speed will be his best asset.

While he’s been a little inconsistent, the thing that has been constant is his ability to steal bases.  In August, he stole 13 while only being caught three times.

8. Canaan Smith (NYY, OF, Low-A)

Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF

Tools Summary: Intriguing power-speed profile that is starting to open eyes.

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Canaan Smith has really come into his own in Low-A.  Since July 1st, he’s hit over .400 with a .520 on-base percentage and more walks than strikeouts.   While he’s only hit 11 home runs, he has plus bat speed and therefore projects to hit for plus power.

He’s also a solid runner and has stolen 16 of 20 bases, five in the past week.  However, he’s already 215 pounds, so as he continues to fill out, the speed will likely regress.  Overall the profile is very exciting with a chance to be a full-time regular as a corner outfielder with 20 plus home run potential and a high on-base percentage.

9. Josh Lowe (TB, OF, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF

Tools Summary: 20-20 power-speed potential but with some swing and miss.  He will walk though, so he could even help you in OBP.

Part of the Tampa Bay Lowe brother trio, although they are not brothers and one of them doesn’t even pronounce his name like the other two, but you know what I mean.  Anyway, Josh Lowe is the last player of the three to make his Majors debut.  However, he might have the highest ceiling of the three, particularly from a fantasy perspective.

In 121 games in Double-A, he hit 18 home runs and stole 30 bases while posting a .340 on-base percentage.   It was a nice bounce-back year after slashing .238/.322/.361 in the Florida State League with only six home runs in 2018.  At 6-foot-4, there is going to be strikeouts and Lowe has been consistent over his minor league career with a mid-20s strikeout rate. But, he’s also walked a lot, usually posting a double-digit walk rate.

In the end, I like the athleticism, the power-speed potential and will live with the .250 batting average he’ll likely produce.  In an on-base percentage, he might even be an asset for that category, or at least neutral as he should post a .340 OBP.

10. Cristian Pache (Atl, OF, Triple-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF

Tools Summary: 20-20 power-speed potential but currently does not control the strike zone well.  Double-plus defender in the mold of JBJ with more speed

Cristian Pache had a quiet 2019 season.  In fact, if you look at his strikeout and walk rates in Double-A vs. Low-A (2017), they were nearly identical.  What was different is he showed a lot more power and didn’t steal as many bases.  For fantasy owners, the lack of stolen bases is concerning and when you see that he got caught more times than he was successful, it raises even more flags.

He does have good speed, not a burner, but clearly needs to work on his base stealing.  I think that will come and he should be able to produce 20 stolen bases at the highest level.  The power is developing nicely and I think there could be 20 plus home run power to come.  That leaves his hit tool and therein lies the challenge.  He walked more this year than he ever has, but at 7.9%, he’s not going to challenge Freddie Freeman OBP.  Plus, he strikes out a lot.  In Double-A, it was 24%.

Net-net, we have a potential 20-20 performer who might only hit .260 with a low .300 OBP.   But, he’s still only 20 and still has a lot of time to improve the hit tool.  I’m still putting his ceiling as a Top 30 fantasy outfielder who will always get at-bats because of his defense, which is stellar.

PITCHERS

1. Roansy Contreras (NYY, RHP, Low-A)

Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP

Tools Summary: Undersized fastball/change-up pitcher that is moving up lists quickly

Over the past five years, few teams have done a better job in mining the Latin market than the Yankees.  They have signed the famous players like Jasson Dominquez as well as the lessor known talents in right-handed pitcher Roansy Contreras.

While undersized at 6-feet, Contreras has the makings of a solid arsenal that begins with a fastball that sits 93 to 94 MPH with a high spin rate.  His best secondary pitch is his change-up that in Low-A is just not a fair pitch.  Lower-level minor league players rarely see a pitch that good and consequently, it’s missing plenty of bats.  His curveball was ok for me when I saw him, but it’s not as far along as his change-up.

As a fastball/change-up pitcher, Contreras should continue to put up solid numbers in the minor leagues and will likely have early success in the Majors.  Whether his ceiling is a number 2/3 starter or 3/4 will depend on the development of his curveball.  For now, we will split the difference and put his ceiling as a number three.

To put an exclamation on his season, Contreras pitched six shutout innings, striking out 8 and walk one with one hit allowed in his final outing.  He should start the 2020 season in High-A.

2. Grayson Rodriguez (Bal, RHP, Low-A)

Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP

Tools Summary: Good size and plus fastball but secondary pitches need work as does delivery

Grayson Rodriguez made his last start of the season on the 29th and went six shutout innings, giving up one hit, striking out seven and walking one.  It was a terrific year for the talented left-hander and one that I would have liked to see him pitch some in Frederick.  But, the Orioles though otherwise and we will all have to wait until next year.  Don’t be surprised if covers both High and Double-A next year with a chance to see Baltimore shortly afterward.

3. Daniel Lynch (KC, LHP, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP

Tools Summary: Size, premium stuff from the left-side, and he throws strikes.  All you want in a frontline starter.

The Kansas City Royals selected Daniel Lynch with their first-round supplemental pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and appears they drafted a potential top of the rotation talent.  He has everything you are looking for in a pitcher – size, premium stuff from the left-side, and he throws strikes.  In 15 starts in High-A this season, he pitched to a 3.10 ERA striking nearly a batter an inning while keeping his walk to 2.6 per nine.

The only blemish on the year is he spent time on the Injured List with general arm soreness.  While that’s not something you ever want to hear, the MRI’s checked out and after some downtime, he was back with the same stuff and control he showed before hitting the IL.

The Royals will likely start him in Double-A to begin the 2020 season with a very good chance to see Kansas City in 2021.  The ceiling is a number two starting pitcher with even perhaps some upside.

4. Simeon Woods-Richardson (Tor, RHP, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP

Tools Summary: Size, athleticism with premium stuff.  There’s a lot to like with a pitcher that many are not high on.

Drafted in the second round by the Mets in the 2018 MLB, Simeon Woods-Richardson had an excellent season first with the Mets and then to finish up the year with the Blue Jays.  The Mets limited him to three to four innings per outing in the Sally League to begin the season and he responded.  In 20 starts, he posted a 4.25 ERA but struck out over 11 per nine while walking less than two per nine.  After being acquired by the Jays at the trade deadline, he performed even better in High-A.  In fact, his hits allowed per inning went way down.  However, in digging through the game log, the same thing was happening in his tenure in the Sally League.

Woods-Richardson doesn’t turn 19 until September 27 and the fact that he’s already pitching well in High-A is indeed impressive.  At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he has the ideal frame for a pitcher.  His arsenal is also very good with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s that can scrape higher, a plus curveball that misses a lot of bats and a change-up that was better than advertised when I saw him over the summer.  He’s athletic with good mechanics.  Honestly, it’s hard to find a lot of faults with the profile and therefore, the ceiling could be a number three starter or perhaps even higher.

5. Forrest Whitley (Hou, RHP, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 SP

Tools Summary: Size and premium stuff but the walks are a problem.  The ceiling is still an ace, or slightly less, but there are growing concerns.

Forrest Whitley’s last start of the season eased some concerns in Houston as he pitched 5.1 shutout innings, giving up only one hit and striking out eight.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  You see, he also walked four.  In fact, in August he walked 18 batters in 20.2 innings which was pretty much what he did when he was getting blown up in Triple-A earlier in the season.  The stuff is elite, but it’s become clear that the control is not.  I think he gets there, but it’s going to take more time.

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Waiver Wire – Week 23

Waiver Wire2As the calendar turns into September, teams are quickly expanding their rosters. In the old days, this meant the arrival of young, hot prospects. Teams wanted to give their best young players a low impact introductory to the game so that when April rolled around, they were ready to go. However, teams rarely do that anymore because every game played in the Major Leagues uses up valuable service time and teams don’t want to waste it on usually meaningless games in September.

That said, there are still players being promoted and some that will help their teams and your respective fantasy teams. We have listed several of them here with more to come next week as the minor league season wrap up tomorrow.

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

Seth Brown, 1B, OAK (CBS: 7% owned)

Called up August 26, Brown has been tearing it up going 11-for-25 with 7 RBI and six runs scored. Surprisingly he has yet to hit one out of the park. Based on the 37 homers he mashed at Triple-A Las Vegas, the homers will come.

Mauricio Dubon, SS, SF (CBS: 5% owned)

In a surprising move, the Giants released Scooter Gennett last week and called up Dubon. Now that the playing time issues have been resolved, the Giants will be looking to give Dubon an audition for 2020. The fact that he hit 20 homers, swiped ten bases and put together a solid .345 OBP this year down on the farm, bodes well for his chances to succeed.

Robert Dugger, SP, MIA (CBS: unowned)

Dugger posted a solid 3.31 ERA at Double-A, struggled at Triple-A, but none-the-less got the call last week filling in for the injured Jordan Yamamoto. He held the Reds to two unearned runs over seven innings, while only allowing three hits one walk, tossing in seven strikeouts for good measure. Keep him on your radar as a potential streaming option in September.

Robinson Cano, 2B, NYM (CBS: 37% owned)

Cano was just starting to heat up and then blew out a hammy. The original time frame for a return was fairly lengthy, but he’s now completed a successful rehab game and looks to be ready to roll. For those looking for a Keston Hiura replacement, Cano is scheduled to be activated off of the IL this coming Tuesday.

Jake Cave, OF, MIN (CBS: 6% owned)

Byron Buxton had a setback earlier this week and currently doesn’t have a timetable for a return. Max Kepler is dealing with a sore knee. In the interim, Cave should see fairly regular at-bats and has the potential to provide a boost to your Fantasy squad in both the power and speed categories.

Mike Ford, 1B, NYY (CBS: 4% owned)

Another one of those extra parts that have been huge in contributing to a team decimated by injuries. The playing time could and most likely will be a concern moving forward, but with four homers in his past five games, it sure isn’t right now.

Clint Frazier, OF, NYY (CBS: 28% owned)

After being buried and passed over in promotions since the mid-June demotion, we have a Frazier sighting. He has been called up and is starting at DH today. There are plenty of mouths to feed in New York, but any return to the form that saw him hit 11 homers earlier in the season, and the Yankees will find him the at-bats.

Sam Hilliard, OF, COL (CBS: 9% owned)

When you hit 35 homers and drive in 101 runs it’s impressive, even at Triple-A Albuquerque. He’s proving it to be no fluke by mashing two bombs in his first four starts for the Rockies. David Dahl has yet to resume running and is tentatively looking at a mid-September return. In the meantime, Hilliard as a replacement is looking anything but tentative.

Matt Magill, RP, SEA (CBS: 23% owned)

Since getting that first save on August 17 against the Jays, Magill has added three more to his resume. He has been prone to the odd meltdown, as was witnessed last night against the Rangers, but should be the primary go-to guy in the ninth for the M’s moving forward.

Sean Manaea, SP, OAK (CBS: 43% owned)

It has been more than a year since the 27-year-old southpaw last tossed a game in the bigs, but the rehab is done and he will be making his 2019 debut today against the Yankees. In 36 1/3 IP over eight rehab starts, Manaea posted a very strong 53/10 K/BB ratio. He’s definitely worthy of a dart toss in the hope that he pitches meaningful innings in September.

Sean Murphy, C, OAK (CBS: 8% owned)

One of the top catching prospects in the game, Murphy saw his season derailed when he tore his left meniscus at the beginning of May. Now healthy, he has gotten the call and of note should be the 10 homers he hit in 31 games down on the farm. Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann aren’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball, so a steady diet of at-bats could be in order in September.

Sheldon Neuse, 3B, OAK (CBS: 3% owned)

He hit a ton down on the farm, mashing 27 long balls, but again it was Las Vegas. Take that power with a grain of salt. He should see at least some at-bats in September but is best left for AL-only formats where even limited at-bats count.

Ryan O’Hearn, 1B, KC (CBS: 11% owned)

I was bullish on Ryan O’Hearn heading into 2019 but he simply didn’t deliver and was dispatched to Triple-A mid-June, returning at the end of July. He’s finally showing some life, hitting three homers in the past week and should see a steady diet of at-bats through September.

Ronny Rodriguez, 1B/2B/SS, DET (CBS: 4% owned)

Ronny Rodriguez is starting to show some life, with three homers in his past two games. The fact that he carries eligibility all over the infield, makes him an intriguing option in deeper formats.

Devin Smeltzer, SP, MIN (CBS: 8% owned)

It would appear that the Twins will be turning to Devin Smeltzer to fill the void created by Kyle Gibson heading to the 10-day IL with ulcerative colitis. In the event that Smeltzer struggles, the Twins have also called up both Lewis Thorpe (2% owned) and flame-throwing Brusdar Graterol (9% owned) and could look to either or both in an “opener” type role.

Trevor Williams, SP, PIT (CBS: 44% owned)

It has been an up and down season, mostly down…but the past two starts against Cincinnati and on the road in Colorado have produced two victories with only a total of three earned runs. Watch the matchups, but as a streaming option, he should be on your radar.

Bradley Zimmer, OF, CLE (CBS: 4% owned)

Zimmer has now moved his rehab to Triple-A where he has gone 5-for-18 with a pair of stolen bases. A September callup is likely in order, and the stolen base potential should be noted.

Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, CHC (CBS: 6% owned)

Joe Maddon simply loves this guy, and with that in mind, you know even with the lengthy layoff, Zobrist will find his way into at-bats in Chicago and very likely at the top-of-the-order.

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Hot Prospects – Week 21

HOT PROSPECTS 1As we wind up the minor league system, we present our next to last Hot Prospects of the week.  We’ve covered nearly every level from Rookie to Triple-A to present 15 players that we hope you enjoy reading.

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

HITTERS

1. Pavin Smith (Ari, 1B, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 1B

Tools Summary: Plus hit tool, but his lack of quality bat speed gives serious question on how much ultimate power he will have

Taken as the seventh overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Pavin Smith does not get the kind of hype that many others in his draft class have received. After posting a .282/.365/.428 in three minor league seasons, perhaps it’s time to give him a little more love.  Emphasizing the point, he hit .375 with a .612 SLG in August.

Smith is solid but I just don’t see the kind of upside that will make him a star.  First, he has a plus hit-tool with the ability to control the strike zone.  In his 292 minor league games, he’s walked nearly as much as he’s struck out with a 12% strikeout rate.  The problem is his swing is more built for contact than power as it lacks loft.  Plus, he’s an average athlete and is likely a first baseman long-term. Making matters worse, he also doesn’t have a lot of bat speed, so it’s hard to project, even with the Major League superball, more than average power down the road.

Net-net, I see a high-average first baseman with 15 to 20 home run power and no speed.  Is that enough to get full-time at-bats?  Perhaps.  The production of Brandon Belt with a better average as he strikes out a lot less might be a good comp.

2. Orelvis Martinez (Tor, SS, Rookie)

Highest Level:  Rookie ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS

Tools Summary: Double-plus raw power with a chance to hit for average as well

Orelvis Martinez was the Blue Jays prized 2018 International signee in 2018.  The Jays were aggressive with Martinez and skipped him over the DSL and started him in the GCL to begin his professional career.  He got off to a hot start but quickly cooled in July batting only .196 for the month.  He’s heating up again and showing the kind of pop and ability to hit that netted him a cool $3.5 million dollar signing bonus.

3. Jarred Kelenic (Sea, OF, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF

Tools Summary: 20-20 type of skills with make-up to spare

Jarred Kelenic is flying through the minor leagues.  After short stays at both A-Level stops, he’s now in Double-A as a 19-year-old.  After a slow start, he’s warming up.  Over the past week, he’s hitting .327 with a couple of home runs, striking out three times.  On the year, he’s currently one stolen base short of going 20-20.  I think that’s what he can do in the big leagues.

4. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pit, 3B, Triple-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B

Tools Summary: While we are still waiting on the power, he can really hit with surprising speed

Ke’Bryan Hayes had another solid season in 2019 where he hit .268 with a .336 OBP in Triple-A.  However, in a league where Dilson Herrera hit 23 home runs, Hayes only managed to pound out 10. I do think there is more power in the bat and I’m still waiting like I’m sure you are as well, for him to have the blow-out season.  Perhaps, it never comes, perhaps this is who he is.  He’s been red hot over the past week going 12 for 23 and one home run.

Hayes’ top tool continues to be his ability to get on base.  He’s a great hitter with a solid approach that should lead to a .280 average and a .360 on-base percentage at the highest level.  What has always been a question is his power.  Even with the Major League ball in Triple-A, he managed to only hit 10 in 2019.  While I’ve talked to some evaluators who see 20 to 25 home runs upside, I continue to throttle that down to 12 to 18.  But, throw-in 10 or so stolen bases a year and you have the makings of a solid fantasy contributor.

5. Dylan Carlson (Stl, OF, Triple-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF

Tools Summary: Power-speed with the ability to get on base.  The speed will fade as he matures, but the power should increase

We finally saw the blow-up year that many were expecting to see from Dylan Carlson.  Scouts always loved the upside, but in his three previous seasons, he never hit more than .250 showing modest speed and power.   However, when you scouted Carlson, you saw the bat speed and that he’s a solid runner who is a fine defender in the outfielder.  This year it all came together in Double-A.  In 110 games, he slashed .283/.365/.517 with 21 home runs and 19 stolen bases.  The effort earned him a recent promotion to Triple-A where he’s been even hotter posting a 1.283 OPS with three home runs.

While I know many fantasy owners will want to label Carlson a 20-20 performer and he could be that early in his career.  However, he’s not a burner and as he continues to fill-out, I think the speed will regress.  I do think he’ll hit with solid strike zone awareness and he’s always posted double-digit walk ratios.  This year, he averaged 10.5%.

He should get the call to the Major Leagues sometime in 2020 with a chance to put up solid numbers.  Again, I don’t see a 20-20 performer, particularly in his freshman year, but would instead dial it back to a 15-15 season with a .270 average and a .340 on-base percentage.

6. Brewer Hicklen (KC, OF, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF

Tools Summary: Plus runner with some good pop.  Needs to cut down on strikeouts or his upside is a fourth outfielder at the highest level

While pitching continues to dominate their system, the Royals do have a few intriguing hitters with Brewer Hicklen near the top of the list.   He was a seventh-round pick in 2017 that spent the entire 2018 season in Low-A as a 22-year-old where he posted a .930 OPS.  When I asked about him, I got a lot of fourth outfielder ceiling reports and ultimately that might be what he is, but he’s a plus runner with some pop and could be more than that.  Plus, he should get a chance to play as again, the Royals are very light in the upper minor leagues with bats.

Hicklen’s calling card is his double-plus speed.  In 2019 he stole 35 bases in 47 attempts.  He also hit 14 home runs.  What he also did was strikeout too much.  In 120 games, he struck out 28% of the time.  While he did walk 11% of the time, he needs to get shorter to the ball, or the fourth outfielder ceiling I heard will indeed turn into a reality.

I’m going to be adding Hicklen to my Dynasty League teams where I have room.  The power-speed upside is very real and if he can cut down on his strikeouts, there could be a full-time regular at the highest level.

He makes our list by hitting .312 in 21 August games with eight home runs and four stolen bases.

7. Jeter Downs (LAD, SS/2B/3B, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS/2B/3B

Tools Summary: Intriguing power-speed skillset who should be able to hit

There’s a reason the Dodgers have been to two consecutive World Series and still have one of the best minor leagues systems in the game.  One: they refuse to trade players who they view as stars.  And, two: they have outstanding evaluators that eat up teams at the draft and in trades.  Look no further than the trade of Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood this off-season.  Puig and Wood had one year remaining and the Dodgers got Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs in return.  Both are young and both are really good.

Downs very much liked the California League.  In 107 games he hit 19 home runs with 23 stolen bases hitting .269 with a robust .354 OBP.  Last week the Dodgers had seen enough and promoted the 20-year-old to Double-A where he posted a 1.099 OPS with a home run and stolen base.

While I don’t see a superstar in the Bellinger-Lux mold, I do see a full-time regular who could be a very good fantasy player.  He’s going to hit as the swing works and he controls the strike zone very well.  He has enough bat speed to project 15 to 20 future home run power to go along with similar speed.  Conservatively, I see a 15-15 player, but would not rule out some years where he pushes 20-20.

8. Jose Garcia (Cin, SS, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Utility Player

Tools Summary: Average tools, below-average hit tool is putting his ceiling as an extra infielder

The ceiling is looking more like a utility infielder, but after two years, the Cuban born shortstop is finally playing like the Reds thought he could.  In August, he’s batting .396 with three home runs and six stolen bases.  It’s a very small sample size, but it is indeed encouraging.

9. Joey Bart (SF, C, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 C

Tools Summary: Plus power but needs to control the strike zone better.  Good defensively

The Giants promoted Joey Bart, their 2018 first-round pick (Pick #2) to Double-A in early August.  After a slow start, he’s warmed up over the past couple of weeks including going 4 for 5 in a game on August 26th.  Bart has plus power, is a plus defender but doesn’t project to hit for a high-average or be a high on-base player.

10. Kyle Tucker (Hou, OF, Triple-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF

Tools Summary: Power-speed combination.  The only concern we have is the hitch in his swing

I know it feels like the Astros have forgotten about Kyle Tucker as Yordan Alvarez has passed him on the depth chart.  But at some point, they will need to move on from Josh Reddick and his .299 OBP and .374 SLG.  I think that will be in 2020.  Until then, Kyle Tucker continues to have nothing left to prove in Triple-A.  He makes our list by stealing his 30th base to go along with 31 home runs.  Think about it, the Astros have a 30-30 kid who is 22-years-old and can’t get him in the Major League line-up.  The Astros are good, but not that good.

PITCHERS

1. Robinson Pina (LAA, RHP, Low-A)

Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP or Closer

Tools Summary: Plus fastball/slider with poor control

20-year-old Robinson Pina is one of the best arms in the lower levels of the Angels system who has serious swing and miss stuff to go along with not always knowing where the ball is going.  In 26 games in 2019, he pitched to 3.69 ERA striking out over 12 per nine while walking 4.8 per nine.  He got better as the year progressed pitching to a 2.41 ERA in five August appearance striking out 32 and walking eight.

Pina has good stuff with a fastball that sits 92 to 94 MPH with a slider that is his primary out-pitch.  His stuff is tough to pick up as he has an exaggerated stride to the plate that coupled with his length, can be very intimidating to batters.  When he can find his release point, he can be dominating, but once he loses it, things going quickly bad.  Long-term, the delivery, and control will likely work better in the pen, but he’s someone to monitor.

2. Luis Medina (NYY, RHP, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer with risk

Tools Summary: Big-time arsenal with a 100 MPH fastball.  The problem is he doesn’t always know where it’s going

Luis Medina showed dominate stuff as he split time between Low and High-A in 2019.  Across both levels, he showed swing-and-miss stuff striking over 11 per nine.  In Low-A, he was wild, walking 6.5 per nine.  However, in his brief stint in High-A, he found more of the plate.  In two starts, he’s pitched to 0.84 ERA with 11 strikeouts per nine and only 2.5 walks per nine.

Medina has big-time stuff with a fastball that sits in the upper-nineties and a curveball and change-up that both look like they will get hitters out.  He’s not a big kid at 6-foot-1 but his strong lower-half should allow him to stay a starter.  But, it’s about control.  Clearly walking six per nine is not going to work, but the delivery is ok, so in time, he should be ok.  That could come in the bullpen, but the arm is special.

3. Parker Dunshee (Oak, RHP, Triple-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP with some upside

Tools Summary: Strike thrower with average stuff.

Entering the 2019 season, I liked Parker Dunshee as a high-floor, low-ceiling back of the rotation starter.  The stuff is solid, and he has plus control but, he doesn’t have the big fastball or a wipe-out secondary pitch.  Yet, he continues to pitch well.

He started the year in Double-A and continued to look great.  In six starts he pitched to 1.89 ERA striking out eight per nine while walking 2.6 per nine.  After his promotion to Triple-A, he continued to pitch well but 17 home runs in 17 starts pushed his ERA to 4.71.  Pitching in PCL and Las Vegas, in particular, did not help, but my analysis remains with one exception.  Let’s face it, pitchers perform better in Oakland.  The park is big, and the air is heavy for night games.  Edwin Jackson pitched to a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts in the 2018 season.

While he’s likely a fourth or fifth starter in the Major Leagues, he could out-perform his ceiling in Oakland.  It’s for that reason, I would be adding him in Dynasty Leagues.   Look what he’s done over the past two starts, 11.1 IP, four hits, 15K/1BB, and no earned runs.

4. Josiah Gray (LAD, RHP, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP with some upside

Tools Summary: Athletic with plus stuff and plus control

Josiah Gray was drafted in the second round by the Reds and was dealt to the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig trade prior to the 2019 season.  He’s an athletic kid with a plus fastball and rapidly improving secondary pitches.  After dominating through two levels in 2019, it looks like the Dodgers got a steal when they acquired Gray.

In fact, you can argue that Gray was the best pitchers in the minor leagues in 2019.  Across High and Double-A, he pitched to a 2.09 ERA striking out over 10 per nine while walk two per nine.  In a word, he was dominant.  What made his stuff play even better is he pounded the strike zone while showing some fastball command.

Gray should be up in 2020 to help the Dodgers and should eventually help fill-out a rotation in a few years that will have Buehler, May, Gonsolin, and oh yeah, some guy named Clayton Kershaw.

5. Adam Kloffenstein (Tor, RHP, Short-Season)

Highest Level:  Short-Season ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP

Tools Summary: Size with good raw stuff

The Blue Jays signed Adam Kloffenstein with their third pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.  As a raw but talented high schooler out of Texas, the Blue Jays have brought him along slowly.  They only gave him a small taste in 2018 and limited him to 12 starts in the Northwest League in 2019.

The plan seems to be working as he pitched very well.  In those 12 starts, he’s pitched to 2.16 ERA striking out 8.6 per nine while walking 3.3 per nine.  He’s been particularly sharp over his past two outings striking out 15 and walking three in 12 innings while not giving up any earned runs.

Kloffenstein has good stuff with a fastball that he can run-up to the mid-90s with promising secondary pitches.  At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he’s already a big boy, so there is likely not to be physical projection remaining.  If it all comes together, there’s a chance he could be a mid-rotation starter but will likely fall in as a number four.

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Week 22 Waiver Wire Pickups

Waiver Wire2

Our waiver wire list players are listed below.

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

 

 

Sandy Alcantara, SP, MIA (CBS: 27% owned)

Alcantara has now posted three consecutive quality starts, with two being against a very good Atlanta Braves squad. Over those three starts, he has tossed 21 2/3 innings, allowing a total of five earned runs, and chipped in with 15 strikeouts. He’s currently on a roll. Take advantage of that fact.

Brock Burke, SP, TEX (CBS: 8% owned)

Burke was traded to the Rangers as part of the Jurickson Profar deal last off-season and made his debut against the Angels last week. It was expected to be a spot start, but after six shutout innings of four-hit, two walk ball in his debut, he earned his second start today against the White Sox. Looking at the dire state of the Rangers pitching, he could call Texas home for the balance of 2019. He’s definitely worthy of our attention in Dynasty/Keeper formats.

Francisco Cervelli, C, ATL (CBS: 13% owned)

After proclaiming he was done behind the dish because of the many concussions endured over the years, Cervelli is giving it one more kick-at-the-can with the injury-depleted Braves. Brian McCann is dealing with a left knee sprain and could be lost for an extended period. As a #2 type catcher, especially in OBP Leagues, he’s worthy of our attention.

Jake Fraley, OF, SEA (CBS: 6% owned)

It’s audition time with the Mariners giving us a preview of the future and a great opportunity for those playing in Dynasty/Keeper formats. They have promoted Jake Fraley and with 19 homers and 22 stolen bases combined between Double and Triple-A this season, it’s a most deserving promotion. A future outfield consisting of Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, and Jake Fraley has its charms!

Brian Goodwin, OF, LAA (CBS: 12% owned)

Over the past 14 days, Goodwin has hit two homers, scored eight runs, swiped a base, and has posted a great .381 OBP. As an injury replacement type player, one could do much worse.

Billy Hamilton, OF, ATL (CBS: 17% owned)

We have a Hamilton sighting, and it’s a great place for him to be landing. The Braves are hurting, losing both Nick Markakis and Austin Riley, and as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner, Atlanta will give him plenty of opportunities to flash the commodity that he brings to the table, speed. Those two stolen bases on Friday reinforce that fact.

Will Harris, RP, HOU (CBS: 6% owned)

Harris was enjoying a great year in the ‘Stros pen, posting a 1.64 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with a strikeout per inning. The knee injury and subsequent trip to the IL for Ryan Pressly have resulted in Harris moving into the setup role for the remainder of the regular season. When Roberto Osuna needs a day of rest, he’s looking like the go-to guy and proved it by earning his first save of the season Saturday against the Angels.

Adrian Houser, SP, MIL (CBS: 37% owned)

Houser has now put together a string of three consecutive starts in which he has allowed only one earned run in each. Two of those outings were against the Nationals and Cards, two teams that can score runs. In those three starts, he has struck out 20 in 18 1/3 IP. Those numbers are way too impressive to be left sitting in the free-agent pool.

Pablo Lopez, SP, MIA (CBS: 32% owned)

He’s finally returning this week from the shoulder injury that has kept him sidelined since mid-June. He’s facing off against the Reds and Nationals in a two-start week, a scenario that I’ll be avoiding, but in his third start, he has the Royals at home. That has my attention.

Nick Solak, 2B, TEX (CBS: 9% owned)

Solak clubbed 27 homers in 419 at-bats at Triple-A and already has his first big league shot under his belt. There is definitely serious power in that bat and with the ongoing struggles of Rougned Odor, a full-time job could be right around the corner. The clock is ticking.

Abraham Toro, 3B, HOU (CBS: 6% owned)

Toro is best left for AL-only Leagues, but for the next several weeks until Carlos Correa returns from his back injury, the 22-year-old Canuck should see at least semi-regular at-bats.

Jose Urena, SP, MIA (CBS: 11% owned)

It would appear that Urena is looking at a September return and when he does return it could be in a new role. Don Mattingly announced that they will be looking at using him in the ninth inning. Yeah, I know it’s the Marlins and save opportunities will most likely be few and far between, but if you’re in a close race, that handful of saves could prove advantageous.

Jacob Waguespack, SP, TOR (CBS: 16% owned)

In his past five starts, Waguespack has only had one small stumble, and that was against a very good Yankees ballclub. He has shut down both the Rays and Dodgers, limiting the Dodgers to but a scant single hit over seven innings last week. In those five starts, he’s managed to win three games. It’s time to hop on that train before it leaves the station.

Five under Five %

Willi Castro, SS, DET (CBS: 2% owned)

Niko Goodrum has found his way to the 10-day IL with a left groin strain. Acquired in the 2018 trade deadline deal for Leonys Martin, the Tigers will turn to the 22-year-old Castro. He’s coming off a fine 11 homer, 17 stolen base campaign in the Minors and could be looking at an extended run at shortstop while Goodrum is on the mend.

Mike Freeman, 2B/3B/SS/3B, CLE (CBS: unowned)

Brutal news for the Indians, as Jose Ramirez will be undergoing surgery on Monday and appears to be out for the season with a broken right hamate bone. It would appear that the Indians will be going with a platoon of Mike Freeman and just recalled Yu Chang (1% owned) with Freeman enjoying the better side of that platoon.

Tim Locastro, OF, ARZ (CBS: unowned)

David Peralta is dealing with right AC joint inflammation and an IL stint, so the DBacks have summoned Tim Locastro to take his spot on the active roster. In several stints this year with Arizona, Locastro has managed to steal 11 bases in 159 at-bats. Expect more of the same this time around.

Tim Lopes, OF/SS, SEA (CBS: 2% owned)

Lopes managed to swipe 26 bases this year in 374 at-bats at Triple-A Tacoma. In limited at-bats (52) in Seattle, he has stolen three bases. He should see a steady diet of at-bats down the stretch, some at the top-of-the-order, and for those looking to make up ground in the stolen base category proves to be an asset.

Kevin Ginkel, RP, ARZ (CBS: 1% owned)

Four good reasons to be buying into Kevin Ginkel. Greg Holland is in Washington. Archie Bradley is now closing in Arizona. Yoshi Hirano is on the 10-day IL. Kevin Ginkel produced an amazing 63/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over three levels in the Minors.

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Hot Prospects – Week 20

HOT PROSPECTS 1We have added a new feature to our hot prospect list and will continue this treatment in our team write-ups over the winter.  We have provided a quick tools summary on each player as well as their ETA and fantasy ceiling.  For those of you looking to simply skim the players, this should provide a quick way to view our perspective on the player.

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

HITTERS

1. Julio Rodriguez (Sea, OF, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 OF

Tools Summary: Plus power who can hit.  Classic right-field profile
Julio Rodriguez was one of the big bonus babies during 2017 J2 signing period and hit the ground running in the DSL in 2018.  He showed a mature approach and an impressive ability to control the strike zone.  Throw-in plus bat speed and average foot speed and it looked like he might be a fast mover.  The Mariners aggressively assigned him to begin the 2019 season in West Virginia of the Sally League where he posted a .857 OPS as one of the youngest players in the league.  Last week, they promoted him to High-A where he’s been five for seven with a home run in his first three games.

Rodriguez has star potential.  The mature approach he showed in the DSL has remained as he moved state-side.  While he struck out 22% of the time this year, you must put that in context based on his age.  I had a chance to scout him earlier this year and he’s selective and doesn’t expand the strike zone.  Also, the bat speed is significant, and he will develop power.  In fact, I think it could be 30 plus home run power.  While he’s currently an average runner, he’s a big kid and as he puts on weight, I don’t think he will be a big stolen base threat.

If you add it all up, the ceiling is an all-star with a .280/.360/.550 slash line possible with 30 plus home runs.  Throw-in a plus defender with a cannon for an arm, the only thing he is missing is speed.  I’m all in and clearly, so are the Mariners.  I expect him to split time between High and Double-A next season with a chance to see the Majors as a 20-year-old in 2021.

2. Jeren Kendall (LAD, OF, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF with extreme risk

Tools Summary: Speed and power but a 36% strikeout rate is holding him back

Drafted in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Dodgers had Jaren Kendall repeat High-A this season and the results were strikingly similar.  There is double-plus speed, solid power and he is getting his walks.  However, a 32% strikeout rate in 2018 followed by a 36% strikeout rate in 2019 will just not work.  However, when he’s hot like he has been recently, he’s easy to dream on.  In August, he’s hitting .362 with five home runs.  Over the past week, he’s hitting .476.

The Dodgers have been working with his swing as it gets long and has too many holes.  I’ve heard they are happy with what he is doing, but the results are not backing it up.  Things will just get tougher as he moves into Double-A next season (I’m assuming that’s where he will go).  However, if it’s another 30% strikeout rate, he might not move any further, particularly with the Dodgers.

I do hold out hope that the Dodgers know how to develop players and therefore, I have not given up the dream of a potential 20-20 performer on my fantasy team.  But, we need to see some positive results on the swing changes that have been made.

3. Jeremiah Jackson (LAA, SS/2B, Short-Season)

Highest Level:  Short-Season ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS

Tools Summary: Athletic middle infielder that is cranking out home runs but striking out a ton

In 56 games in the Pioneer League, Jeremiah Jackson has hit 21 home runs.  While he hasn’t lapped the field, he’s getting close as the second-most home runs hit is 13.  The problem is that the big power is coming with a 31% strikeout rate and unless it’s Joey Gallo power (which it’s not), it’s a problem.

Jackson doesn’t turn 20 until next March and still has time to resolve his tendency to swing and miss.  He’s athletic with great bat speed but the swing is “rare back and swing the pole”.  He needs to get shorter to the ball and tighten up the swing, which was more his profile when he was drafted.  He was never projected to be a 40 home run threat.  Perhaps things have changed, or perhaps the Angels need to have him refocus his tools.

Regardless, I’m still very intrigued as the tools are indeed exciting.

4. Travis Swaggerty (Pit, OF, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 OF

Tools Summary: Double-plus speed with a little pop.  He needs to reduce his strikeouts to reach his potential

I was very high on Travis Swaggerty entering the draft but swallowed hard when the Pirates drafted him.  Would the Pirates develop him properly or would he become 2024’s version of Austin Meadow – a kid with a ton of upside that spent too long in the minors just to become an all-star for another organization?  However, the Pirates changed their organizational approach to hitting over the winter and it seems to be working.  Positional players are performing better, including Swaggerty.

In 112 games in High-A (yes, High-A for 2018 draftee!!), Swaggerty is hitting .269 with nine home runs and 21 stolen bases.  He’s striking out 22.5% of the time and walking 10% of the time.  While the strikeout rate is a little high, he is controlling the strike zone enough for him to get to his secondary tools.  His secondary tools are highlighted by his double-plus speed with enough power to pop double-digit home runs annually.

If it all comes together, I think he’s a better version of Austin Meadow – a top-of-the-lineup threat with 30 stolen bases and 10 to 12 home runs.  However, he needs to continue to work on reducing his strikeout rate to make this a reality.

5. JJ Bleday (Mia, OF, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF

Tools Summary: Multi-part swing is concerning but he’s a high pick and we are treating as such

JJ Bleday was taken as the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft and his piggy bank is now $6.6 million dollars heavier.  He played college at Vanderbilt and posted great numbers hitting .323 with a .556 SLG in three years.  He got a late start to his professional career but based on the success he had in college; the Marlins assigned him to High-A.  He initially struggled and really hasn’t got hot until recently.  In the last week, he’s 9 for 25 with two home runs.

I’ve gotten a variety of opinions about Bleday (I haven’t seen him yet).  Some believe he’ll hit with power and others think his swing needs to be simplified for him to find success.  In looking at video, I’m leaning to the latter.  His swing is not short to the ball with a lot of moving parts. He starts high, lowers his bat before a very large load and swing.  With this approach, there could be a lot of holes that pitchers will expose.  It does look like he’ll have average to above-average power, but speed will not be part of the equation.

I’m not sure with Bleday.  He didn’t make our mid-season Top 100 list and at this point, I’m not inclined to put him there yet.  I’m putting his ceiling as a Top 50 outfielder based mostly on the investment the Marlins made.

6. Adley Rutschman (Bal, C, Short-Season)

Highest Level:  Short-Season ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top three catcher

Tools Summary: Plus hit tool and power.  Elite catching skills.

Being selected 1:1 in a draft brings riches but also a ton of expectations.  What are the riches?  $8.1 million dollars.  What are the expectations?  Joe Mauer (when he was a catcher)/Buster Posey type of career.

He got off to a slow start and only hit .230 over his first three weeks and it was amazing how the naysayers came out on my Twitter feed.  But, he got hot and is now hitting .325 in the New York Penn League with 16 strikeouts and 14 walks in 20 games.  Of course, the naysayers are still out saying he should be in High-A or Double-A if he’s that good.  Sigh.

I’m a big fan of Rutschman and believe he will be an elite player at a scarce fantasy position.  He can hit with plus power and could put up a .280/.370/.550 slash line with 20 to 25 home runs.  Sure, his runs and RBIs will be muted a little because he won’t play in 150 games, but if he hits as much as I think he will, the Orioles will find a way to get him more at-bats and with that, the counting stats will increase.

Defensively, he’s a plus catcher and should make the Orioles a better club.  Sure, for fantasy owners…who cares.  But I contend with all the platoon situations occurring in the game now, having a player locked into a position is a good thing.  Plus, I play exclusively in two-catcher leagues and I’m convinced in looking at the math that having a plus player at each catcher slot gives you a huge advantage.  Net-net, don’t back away from Rutschman because he’s a catcher in your upcoming Dynasty League drafts.  Take him with confidence.  I know I will.

7. Peyton Burdick (Mia, OF, Low-A)

Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF

Tools Summary: Double-plus power and showing the ability to hit

Drafted in the third round in last June’s draft, Peyton Burdick has gotten off to a fast start to his professional career.  After a quick stopover in the New York Penn League, he spent most of his time in Clinton in the Midwest League where he hit .316 with eight home runs and three stolen bases.  In August, he’s hit .364 with four home runs.  He has been banged up over the past few days but should be back shortly.

Burdick carrying tool is his double-plus power but as opposed to a lot of potential power hitters, the swing isn’t long, and he also shows some plate patience.  He can expand the strike zone but if performance in Low-A is any indication, a 20% strikeout rate, and a 10% walk rate should allow him to get to his power.   If it all comes together, the ceiling is a .260/.340/.550 player with 25 to 30 home runs and a handful of stolen bases.  While Max Kepler has blown up for more power than that this year, I think that’s a reasonable comp.

8. Victor Mesa Jr. (Mia, OF, Rookie)

Highest Level:  Rookie ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 75 OF

Tools Summary: Average tools but showing the ability to hit

While the spotlight has been on Victor Victor Mesa, his brother Victor Mesa Jr. has been holding his own in his first taste of professional ball.  In 43 games in the GCL, he slashed .289/.366/.410 with a home run and seven stolen bases.  While his brother has more tools, Victor Mesa Jr. is quickly showing that he might have the hit-tool to be a major leaguer as well.

Mesa Jr. doesn’t have a true carrying tool, but instead has a lot of average to above-average tools.  He’s a good runner who should be able to steal double-digit stolen bases.  His power is average at best but still should be able to post a .400 SLG with a handful of home runs.  The encouraging tool is his hit tool as he appears to have an approach with a good understanding of the strike zone.  If it all comes together, he could be a full-time regular in the outfield, although he doesn’t have the power for a corner, and he might not have the chops to play center.  That usually means, he’ll be a fourth or fifth outfielder.

9. Noelvi Marte (Sea, SS, DSL)

Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS with extreme risk

Tools Summary: Toolsy middle infielder who is showing the ability to hit

Noelvi Marte graduates from our Hidden Five to the big list as he continues to impress in the DSL.  He slumped in July but is hitting .400 in 15 games in August with three home runs and five home stolen bases.

There’s a lot to get excited about with Marte as he has plus speed with excellent bat speed and a chance to hit for above-average future power.  At 17-years-old and still playing in the Dominican Summer League, it’s hard to get a great read on his hitting ability, but he’s kept his strikeouts under control (19% K/9) while also getting his walks (10% BB/9).  He’s currently playing shortstop and should be able to stay at the position given his athleticism, but if not, a move to second should work as well.

10. Alejandro Kirk (Tor, C, High-A)

Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 Catcher

Tools Summary: Undersized catcher with a solid hit

At 5-foot-9 and 220 pounds, Alejandro Kirk is short and er…has a thick lower half.  He’s always shown the ability to make excellent contact with plenty of walks.  In fact, over his three professional seasons, he’s walked more than he’s struck out.  That continues to be the case in 66 games in the Florida State League.  He’s hitting .296 with an impressive .398 OBP.  He also has shown some power with 23 doubles but has only left the yard four times.

Finding catchers that he can hit like Kirk is hard.  With his ability to control the strike zone, he could profile as a .300 hitter or close to that throughout his career.  His swing though is not geared for power as it’s more contact-oriented but once he starts using the Major League ball, he could hit 10 plus home runs.  While I’ve not seen him play, I don’t get good reports about his ability to catch.  The arm is solid but his ability to be nimble behind the plate has been questioned.  Given his body type, I’m not surprised.  If you’re thinking Willians Astudillo, well, I am as well.

PITCHERS

1. Logan Gilbert (Sea, RHP, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP

Tools Summary: Big kid who has improved in nearly every start this season

Logan Gilbert is a back-to-back member of our list as he continues to shove-it in Double-A.  Three days ago, he pitched five shutout innings giving up two hits and striking out eight.  He continues to impress and has lowered his ERA in Double-A to an impressive 2.50 in seven starts.

2. Luis Garcia (Hou, RHP, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Back of the rotation starter or bullpen arm

Tools Summary: Good arm but doesn’t always throw strikes

The Astros continue to find and develop good arms that can one day help their major league team.  Sure, Rogelio Armenteros, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, et. al have had their moments, none of them have provided consistent help for the Astros.

Luis Garcia might soon be the next pitcher in line to help the club.  Will he catch on?  Probably not, but he has a good arm and is showing he can miss plenty of bats.

Garcia can run his fastball up to the mid ’90s with a quality curveball that is his primary out pitch.  He lacks a feel for a change-up which will likely point to a bullpen role once he finds his way to the big leagues.  Complicating matters is he doesn’t always throw strikes, but he’s been able to keep the ball in the park and hitters just don’t pick up the ball well.  The ceiling is likely a bullpen arm, but at some point, one of these young pitchers is going to hit and why not Garcia?

3. Anthony Kay (Tor, LHP, Triple-A)

Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP

Tools Summary: Premium stuff from the left-side.  Still working on control and command

As the Mets strive to make it back to the playoffs, they appear to be moving anything not nailed down in the minors.  Their latest movable pieces included Anthony Kay.  The good news if you are a Mets fan is, he doesn’t have the kind of upside that Jared Kelenic did, but he’s nonetheless, pretty darn good.

Kay has premium stuff from the left side which includes a fastball that will touch 96 to 97 while sitting 93 to 95.  His curveball is his best offering and over time, it could be a knockout pitch as it has great depth and spin.  His change-up is also a quality offering and if you are keeping track, that’s three potential plus pitches in his arsenal.  What he can’t do yet is throw consistent strikes.  Over his professional career, he’s posted a 3.62 BB/9 rate.

While I don’t see Kay having top of the rotation potential, he could slide in nicely behind Nate Pearson in the Blue Jays rotation at some point in 2020.  I don’t think he has an overall number two ceiling, but I’ll take him as a number three.

4. Brady Singer (KC, RHP, Double-A)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP or closer

Tools Summary: Good stuff but a delivery that points to a bullpen role

The Royals 2018 first-round pick (pick 18) is moving quickly through the minors.  He split his time between High and Double-A posting a 3.01 ERA striking out over eight per nine while walking less than three per nine.  He was particularly good in an outing last week when he pitched seven shutout innings striking out nine and walking one.

Singer is primarily a two-pitch pitcher with a solid-average fastball that he pairs with plus slider with tight rotation.  He still doesn’t yet have a good feel for his change-up.

My biggest concern with Singer continues to be his delivery.  It’s far from smooth but more concerning, is he drops his arm down and doesn’t get great extension on his delivery.  Translation…he short arms the ball from a lower delivery point.  While that delivery will likely give right-handed batters fits, he’ll be more prone for injuries and you just don’t see a ton of starting pitchers with that delivery.

If Singer can remain a starter, I see him as a four.  However, I do think he eventually finds his way to the bullpen where he could excel into a high-leveraged reliever.

5. Grayson Rodriguez (Bal, RHP, Low-A)

Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP

Tools Summary: Good size and plus fastball but secondary pitches need work as does delivery

Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles number one overall pick in 2018 (pick 11) has spent the entire season in the Sally League and has had little trouble.  In 18 starts, he’s pitched to a 2.59 ERA striking out 12.6 per nine while walking 3.5 per nine.  Ok, you can say that the control is not there yet, but the Orioles appear to be handling Rodriguez very carefully.

At 6-foot-5, Rodriguez has the size that teams are looking for in a starter.  He’s got a quality fastball that sits 93 to 94 MPH, but as we saw in the Futures Game, he can run it up to 96 we needed.  His breaking pitch is more of a slurve and when I saw him earlier this year, his change-up needed a lot of work.

Ultimately, I see his ceiling as number four, perhaps a number three starter.  That might be lower than others, but I’ve had a chance to see him live.  In fact, the outing in which I scouted was his worse of the season.  I just don’t see front-of-the-rotation stuff.  Plus, the delivery needs a lot of cleanup.  Perhaps it’s for these reasons that the Orioles have kept him in Low-A.

He makes our list after pitching eight shutout innings over two outings striking out 16 and walking two.

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Week 21 Waiver Wire Pickups

Waiver WireWhile the season might be winding down, the waiver wire this week if full of great names. As guys are getting hurt and being shut down for the season, owners need to act fast. We hope we’ve presented some great names that can help you teams.

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

Nick Anderson, RP, TAM (CBS: 13% owned)

Anderson was looking to be the favorite to gain the closer role in Miami until being dealt to the Rays at the trade deadline. Since arriving in Tampa Bay, he’s made seven appearances, all one-inning stints, and has allowed one hit, no walks and struck out 17. That is not a typo, folks! Kevin Cash does have a history of rolling with the hot-hand, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Anderson to work his way into the mix for saves.

Randy Arozarena, OF, STL (CBS: 5% owned)

Ten homers, 16 stolen bases, and a great .435 OBP will get you a promotion to the big league club. Does it parlay itself into a regular job? The verdict is still out, but until the return of Jose Martinez at the end of the month, Arozarena will get every opportunity to prove he deserves to be penciled into that everyday lineup in September.

Luis Arraez, SS/2B/3B/OF, MIN (CBS: 35% owned)

The kid can flat out hit. Ask Jonathan Schoop, who is now solidly buried on the bench. The question will be can he provide even moderate power or speed numbers to complement that outstanding hit tool. Short-term, he’ll score a ton of runs and provide outstanding BA/OBP numbers in that high powered Twins offense. We’ll worry about the long-term in the off-season.

Dylan Carlson, OF, STL (CBS: 6% owned)

When you have made Rich Wilson’s “Hot Prospect” report not once, but twice this year, there is a reason and a very good one at that. The soon-to-be 21-year-old has amassed a 21 homer, 18 stolen bases, .367 OBP season and has just recently been promoted to Triple-A. It’s worth a quick look to see if he’s owned in your Dynasty/Keeper League. If not, change that right smartly!

Emmanuel Clase, RP, TEX (CBS: 1% owned)

Here’s a player that should have your attention in deep keeper formats. The 21-year-old Clase skipped Triple-A, making the move straight from Double-A Frisco to the Rangers bullpen. He posted a 3.35 ERA at Double-A with an attention getting 39/8 K/BB. He also was 11-of-13 closing out games while allowing only one homer. The only thing standing between Clase and the setup role in 2020 is the $2.5 mill option the Rangers have on Shawn Kelley.

Tony Gonsolin, SP, LAD (CBS: 11% owned)

We mentioned Gonsolin last week and lo and behold after the very successful one-and-done, he’s getting the call today to start against the Braves. Dustin May has been moved into the bullpen. Julio Urias is currently serving a suspension for the next 15 games. If you ignored our recommendations last week, don’t make it two weeks in a row.

Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA (CBS: 6% owned)

Fernandez has been out since the beginning of May, dealing with shoulder issues. He’s looking at a return this coming Saturday against the Jays, a favorable matchup. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that “King Felix” is only 33 years-old.

Daniel Hudson, RP, WAS (CBS: 4% owned)

I was all set to mention Sean Doolittle’s recent struggles when it was announced this morning that the Gnats have placed him on the 10-day IL with right knee tendinitis. There is no shortage of options, but that trade with the Jays for Daniel Hudson is looking to be a very good one right about now. Hunter Strickland, the ageless wonder Fernando Rodney, and recently signed Greg Holland all have the potential to be options, but for now, we’ll stick with Hudson as “Plan A”.

Corban Joseph, 1B, OAK (CBS: unowned)

It looks like Jurickson Profar’s days of being an everyday player in 2019 have ground to a halt. The A’s have turned second base over to the 30-year-old journeyman Joseph. He hit 13 homers with an off-the-charts .371 BA at Triple-A Las Vegas, but it is Vegas so take those results with the usual grain of salt. Joseph will occupy the good side of a platoon, making him worth a look in AL-only and deep Mixed Leagues.

Francisco Mejia, C, SD (CBS: 40% owned)

Since the beginning of August, Mejia has gone 19-for-36 with a pair of homers and four RBI. He has also posted a rather solid 1.358 OPS. He’s on a tear and looking to establish his #1 status behind the dish for the Padres moving into 2020.

Ivan Nova, SP, CWS (CBS: 37% owned)

I don’t know how, but Ivan Nova has all of a sudden become very Fantasy relevant. In his past five starts, he’s allowed a total of two earned runs. He has tossed two complete games during his current hot streak and lowered his ERA from 5.86 to 4.51. At some point, Nova will come down to earth, but it doesn’t appear to be any time soon.

Dillon Peters, SP, LAA (CBS: 29% owned)

The former Marlin has now reeled off three consecutive quality starts in which he has struck out 19 over 19 2/3 IP. He has also allowed but a scant two free passes. Peters has found the West coast to his liking.

Brett Phillips, OF, KC (CBS: 2% owned)

Phillips has demonstrated that he can hit for power and steal bases, but the hit tool has never fully developed and he still strikes out a ton. On a positive note, the Royals have DFA’d speedster Billy Hamilton, so they are prepared to give Phillips a good look and plenty of at-bats as we head into September.

Kyle Seager, 3B, SEA (CBS: 37% owned)

Seager has turned a very disappointing season around in a hurry. Six homers, nope he just smacked another one, making it seven long balls since the calendar flipped over into August. If you’re looking for a hot corner-infielder, he’s your guy!

Logan Webb, SP, SF (CBS: 7% owned)

The 22-year-old Webb started his 2019 in Rookie Ball, and after climbing through four levels and with just one start at Triple-A under his belt, made his MLB debut Saturday. It was a success, as he limited the DBacks to one-earned run over five innings while striking out seven in gaining his first MLB victory. He’s young and relatively unproven, but the upside trumps the risk at this juncture of the season.

Mike Yastrzemski, OF, SF (CBS: 39% owned)

We mentioned “Yaz” back in Week 17 as he was starting to heat up. He has moved it up a notch and is currently on fire. He has gone 16-for-55 in August, with seven of those 16 hits leaving the yard, including a three-homer day last week against the DBacks. It might be time to join the 39% of players that have found a home for him on their roster.

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An early peek at 2020 Top Pitchers

Digging DeepWith the MLB trade deadline in our rearview mirror, and most league’s trade deadlines either passed or near, we should start thinking about next year and beyond – especially if we need to make keeper decisions. Using projections, 2019 performance, and Stat Cast data, we’ve attempted to list the top 30 Starting Pitchers for 2020. Note that this is a redraft list only – only their expected performance for 2020 is considered.

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

1. Max Scherzer

What can I say? Another dominant season for Max. The only caveat is this back issue that keeps flaring up. Even if I knock him down to 180 IP, he is still #1.

2. Gerrit Cole

The former #1 draft pick is dominating again for the Astros. The problem is he might not be slinging in Houston in 2020 (which would ding his Wins a bit). I assume that the stuff he learned in Houston about how to pitch will be mostly retained. Take him with confidence.

3. Justin Verlander

The ageless one just rolls on. Another great season (the player providing the most value in 2019 so far). The only hiccup is that he’s given up a lot of home runs. He’s locked up in Houston so you can count on the wins.

4. Jacob DeGrom

2018’s Cy Young winner quietly is putting up another great season with a sub 3 ERA and FIP and a top 6 xwOBA (SPs with minimum 100 PAs). As solid as they come.

5. Chris Sale

Perhaps the first divisive ranking – the inconsistent Red Sox ‘ace’ has put up a 4.40 ERA and a 6-11 record. Well, he actually has put up a 1.07 WHIP and his 3.40 FIP, 3.00 SIERA, and K-BB% are all better than Verlander’s. What’s the issue? Well, not sure to be honest. He has a 66.7% LOB% (which has been shown to have zero correlation from year to year) whereas league average is around 75%. So, let’s see…2 out of 3 base runners score (whereas it should be more like 3 out of 4)…and he averages 7 baserunners every 7 innings…that ERA of 4.40 should be “more like” 3.87. Maybe he’s hiding some sort of injury – but I would bet not, and buy him here.

6. Walker Buehler

The young Dodger starter will probably still defer the title of Los Angeles’ #1 starter in the playoffs to Kershaw again this year – but don’t be surprised if next year he owns that distinction. With the Dodgers, you never know what they’ll be doing with their starters, but so far this year he has a 1.00 WHIP, 3.08 ERA (FIP and SIERA pretty much the same) and a K-BB% of 24.9%. If there’s a knock on him, it’s that his arsenal indicators are not as dominant as last year (e.g. his SwStrk% is a pedestrian 12.3%) but, that’s really quibbling.

7. Blake Snell

From the top 5 we had a big drop and I’ve got last year’s AL Cy Young winner solidly in this second tier. Just like with Sale, his ERA is an unexpected 4.28, but the FIP and SIERA are both around 3.50. His xwOBA is top 5 and his ‘arsenal’ indicators (SwStrk%, O-Sw%, and Z-Con%) have all been elite this year). Because of the arm injury, I’m estimating 170 IP or so for 2020 (which still might be high) and even then, he’s #7.

8. Shane Bieber

Is he now the Cleveland ace? With Bauer being shipped within-State, Carrasco and Kluber fighting various health issues, and Civale and Plesac not quite ready for primetime, the answer seems to be yes. His calling card is his command (which manifests as low walks) but this year he’s also throwing it past hitters. xwOBA isn’t as convinced (as he’s not as dominant as the pitcher’s above him in this list) but if you’re limiting free passes, you’re putting yourself in a good position to succeed. All the projection systems see him running a 3.50 ERA for the rest of the season with a ~10 K9. That’s easily a top 10 SP in this environment. The AL Central is also a good division to pitch in.

9. Mike Clevinger

Wait, it’s Clevinger who is the Cleveland ace, isn’t it? He’s definitely putting in a good case. He started off 2019 like gangbusters but got felled by a back injury. He’s come back and despite some early hiccups, his fastball velocity is 97 mph (compared to 95 mph in 2018) and has often looked dominant (with an insane 12.7 K9). He’s only one year removed from a 200 IP season, so I’m not particularly concerned that he can’t handle a full season workload, recent injuries notwithstanding. Top 10 easily.

10. Stephen Strasburg

When did Strasburg become 31 years old? It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for him to finally put together his monster year. The bad news is that those days may be in the rearview mirror. The good news is that he’s actually been excellent for a long time and should easily reach 200 IP again (he threw 215 IP in 2014). His K9 is 10.5, his BB9 is 2.3, and his ERA/FIP/SIERA are all around 3.50. The Nationals should still be solid in 2020 (even though they may lose Rendon). Because of the injury risk, he probably has a lower floor than Bieber, but I think that assuming he gets 180 IP in 2020, he is comfortably above the next group of Starting Pitchers.

11. Patrick Corbin

Strasburg’s Washington rotation-mate comes in next. His 2019 season has been a little more uneven than last year’s breakout campaign, but he’s still been excellent so far. His xwOBA is a bit worse than we’d like, and his ‘arsenal’ skills are a bit middling, but he’s solid. If you took him a bit lower, I wouldn’t be offended…

12. Charlie Morton

The ageless Charlie Morton has not missed a beat with the Rays this year, actually improving his K9 and BB9 (and ERA) in the tougher American League East. He should probably hit 190-200 IP (plus playoffs??) too. With his advanced age – and only recent success (though it’s actually been 3 years now) – there could be a cliff-dive. I just don’t think it’ll be next year.

13. Luis Castillo

The Reds made some big moves at the trade deadline and have put together an interesting staff for 2020 – headed up by Castillo (and a couple other names you’ll see a little further down the list). The changeup is still elite (with a ~30% SwStrk%) but where he took the big step forward this year was against lefties (holding them to a 0.300 wOBA, compared to a 0.357 last year). Because of his 2.69 ERA (and youth), expect him to go earlier than here next year. Look at the 3.96 SIERA and feel a bit better about letting him go to your more aggressive redraft league-mates.

14. Jack Flaherty

The young Cardinal starter was taken as a borderline ace this year and he disappointed…until now where his last two months’ performance when he’s redeemed his owners. He’s brought his season statistics up to 1.10 WHIP, and 3.52 ERA (though with a FIP/SIERA of 3.90). I’m possibly being a bit conservative with him here at 14 – and wouldn’t be surprised at all if takes the next step – but even at this ranking, he’s a #1 in a 15 team league.

15. Clayton Kershaw

Coming into 2019, the industry struggled on how to value Kershaw. The HOF’er had been battling some nagging injuries and had a three year average of only 160 IP. Well, this year, the stuff has taken a marginal step back – but he’s going to (probably) get to 180-190 IP plus playoffs and his pitchability has led to face value success. Perhaps we were premature. Well, to be honest, there are some areas of concern: he is 31 years old, his K9 is below his career average (as expected) and his SIERA is over a full point higher than his ERA. Not to mention, a deep playoff run by the Dodgers (which is probably going to happen) will put more wear and tear on his arm than most owners would probably like. Let’s hope he finally gets his ring – and take him at #15 next year.

16. Noah Syndergaard

Thor has had a strange 2019. His agent became his General Manager…and he was the subject of intense trade rumors. Well, he stayed put and despite a terrible season, he’s actually been…okay?? He has a WHIP of 1.21, a FIP of 3.49 (a better predictor of future ERA than ERA is), and an xwOBA in the top 10. I don’t know…does this rank seem low or high?

17. Chris Paddack

The sheriff has exceeded the already very high expectations put on him by the projection systems. Before the season, they aggressively projected a 1.15 WHIP with a 3.48 ERA (with a 9.4 K9) and this year he has thrown a 0.93 WHIP with a 3.26 ERA with a 9.4 K9. Pretty spot on. He will be capped this year (so he will finish with only about 140 IP) but he should be unleashed next year. One of my favorites.

18. Trevor Bauer

Baseball’s smartest pitcher has been smarting owner’s stat-sheets in 2019. Moving from the AL to the NL (but in a smaller park) is probably a wash so we don’t need to adjust expectations there too much. But he has taken a huge step back by almost every statistical measure as he has below average WHIP, ERA/FIP/SIERA, xwOBA, and arsenal metrics. What he does do is rack up the innings (and strikeouts) and tantalize us with his ceiling. Until then, the projections have him higher than the 2019 data would suggest (even though he’s really only had one good year out of six). What that might mean is that owners coming in to 2020 drafts see the 2019 numbers and get scared off. I value him here at #18 but he might fall lower than this.

19. Carlos Carrasco

We are all hoping that Cookie recovers from his leukemia diagnosis and return to the mound. All signs point that way, but we don’t know how effective he will be when he does. That makes him a tough guy to evaluate. The projection systems still love him but his 2019 has not been solid at all (ERA of 4.98). On the other hand, his SIERA is 3.49 and his K-BB% is 24.7%…but his xwOBA in the 65 innings he’s thrown so far has been terrible. Just like with some other pitchers further down the list, his outcomes are probably binary: either he’s a top 10 pitcher or you might end up having wasted a pick.

20. Corey Kluber

Another tough one to rank. He had a fluky injury (getting hit by a batted ball) but before being felled, he wasn’t exactly tearing it up this year. The projections still do not predict a significant decline despite being 33 years old. Never count out the Klubot – but by putting him here at #20, it kind of feels like I am.

21. Luis Severino

Shoulder issues aren’t a good thing to have – but the 25 year old Yankee threw 190+ IP the last two seasons (with a 10+ K9). That’s pretty undeniable. Because of the nature of the injury (and the memory that he tailed off considerably at the end of last year), I’ve dinged him pretty substantially (using 140 IP as his predicted inning workload for 2020). I too think that his 2020 outcomes will be binary: either he’ll be a top 10 pitcher or it’ll be a largely lost season. Let’s split the difference.

22. Aaron Nola

The Phillies ace has righted the ship a bit, but his arsenal metrics are weak. I can easily see this ranking looking terrible next year – for either reason. Lists are hard.

23. Tyler Glasnow

He had the beginnings of a 2019 breakout (continuing his 2018 Tampa Bay rebirth) by drastically reducing his walk rate (over 48 innings) to a 1.68 BB9 and the best xwOBA of any starting pitcher with minimum 100 PAs. But then, as you know, he got an arm injury (and still hasn’t come back). I think he will (knock on wood) be back in 2019 – but am kind of hoping he just gets shutdown to be ready for 2020. Trying to balance his considerable upside (breakout, pedigree, youth) with injury risk (and poor performance history when a Pirate), he lands here at #23.

24. James Paxton

The book on Paxton was that he is elite if he can stay healthy. Well, in 2019 so far he has been on pace for his normal (for him) 150 IP – but he hasn’t met expectations. His ERA and FIP are all north of 4.00, his WHIP is an unsightly 1.41, and his xwOBA is below average. Well, he should continue to get Wins on a strong Yankee team and the Ks and I’m counting on the bounceback. But maybe Big Maple just wasn’t made for the Big Apple.

25. Shohei Ohtani

The first thing I have to say is that this ranking is based only on starting pitcher performance. Because (in most leagues), he also brings tremendous value as a hitter, Ohtani should (and will be) be drafted ahead of a lot of the pitchers on this list. Assuming he picks up right where he left off in 2018, look for about 130 innings of 1.20 WHIP, 3.60 ERA and an 11 K9. Fun to watch this guy.

26. Yu Darvish

Ohtani’s fellow countryman has had a rebirth in the Windy City in the last 2 months. Somehow he harnessed his control which had vastly eluded him in the first half. He still has the stuff and the projection systems believe.

27. Lance Lynn

Lynn has his best K9, BB9 and FIP of his career…at the age of 32. He’s sustained it all year – which makes the sample size approach “meaningful”. I expect a lot of owners to draft him higher than this based on 2019 numbers – but I feel really weird about putting him this high. I won’t be owning him.

28. Matthew Boyd

The Tiger came out of nowhere and has kept it up all year…so much so that I have him just inside the top 30. The projection systems haven’t bought in yet (mostly because of the previous years of middling performance) but for all of 2019, his WHIP is still below 1.20 with a SIERA of 3.44. The ERA is above 4.00 (more a testament to the porous Tiger defense than anything) but the K-BB% of 25.5% is the 8th best among pitchers on this list. I believe it will continue into 2020 – and there are still whispers he will be dealt in the offseason, and Houston was linked earlier. That would be nice.

29. Hyun-Jin Ryu

He’s having an amazing year – but who knows where he’ll be pitching in 2020. Plus, how much of his success has been based on the Dodger doctors being able to diagnose phantom injuries to keep him fresh? His per-inning output is phenomenal – when he pitches… It’s tough to rank a feast-or-famine pitcher (which has been one of the through-lines of this piece). I think he is still a #2 so I’m ok with this rank.

30. German Marquez

Despite Coors, he is still a top 30 pitcher. He didn’t take it to the next level this year but he is only 24 years old. His LOB% has shown he is unlucky…but his xwOBA suggests he’s lucky. I still believe.

31. Sonny Gray

The Vanderbilt alumnus has had a rebirth of sorts in Cincinnati, posting a stellar WHIP of 1.13, an ERA of 3.10, and the highest K rate of his career. The peripherals don’t paint as rosy a picture however, as his SIERA is just under 4 and his whiff metrics are some of the worst of any pitcher on this list. He used to throw 200 innings back in Oakland but hasn’t reached 165 since 2015. This year he looks to hit about 175. In this environment, that’s pretty good.

The rest:

32. Brandon Woodruff

33. Andrew Heaney

34. Robbie Ray

The WHIP isn’t great but the 240 Ks help ease the pain.

35. Madison Bumgarner

36. Dinelson Lamet

37. Zack Wheeler

38. Kenta Maaeda

39. Brendan McKay

40. David Price

Surprises (read, controversies): Mike Soroka, Zack Greinke, Lucas Giolito, and Jose Berrios didn’t make this list. It definitely is puzzling. The model for the ranking weights projections for 2020 (with playing time tweaks) with StatCast data (and some other peripherals) and they don’t grade out well.

For Soroka, his projections have not fully bought into this level of performance yet. One thing is that because FIP is weighted higher than ERA in this, pitchability guys (like Hendricks or Soroka…or Greinke) who don’t rack up the strikeouts get dinged. In aggregate, this is probably correct – but as a result, Soroka is probably too low.

Greinke is not loved by the projections systems either for similar reasons. He doesn’t get that many strikeouts and his peripherals are not dominant. This is probably a weakness of the model.

Giolito is low because he’s had multiple years of terrible performance and one (the most recent) year of great performance. (Weighted) historical performance is a better indicator of future performance than recent performance. But historical performance is blind to real substantive changes. This could be a miss too, especially considering his age and pedigree – but I’ll probably not own him in a redraft.

Jose Berrios is another one like Greinke. His WHIP and ERA look great on the face – but the other peripherals are not strong compared to the others on the list. He is walking a tightrope. He’s still so young so he’s a very valuable asset in dynasties – but I’m nervous (and have been all year).

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Hot Prospects – Week 19

HOT PROSPECTS 1

We were a little late getting our Hot Prospects List out this week, but as the saying goes – “Better late than never.”

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

HITTERS

1. Daulton Varsho (Ari, C, Double-A)

Daulton Varsho continues to fly under the radar in Dynasty Leagues despite showing power, speed and the ability to control the strike zone.  Perhaps it’s because he’s a catcher and owners just ignore catchers.  But, with 19 stolen bases in 2018 and already another 17 in 2019, he has a chance to be a Top five fantasy catcher in the game.

While the offensive profile of Varsho is exciting, I had a chance to see him catch in the AFL in 2018, and he’s only an average catcher at-best.  There was talk of moving him to second or even third, but that has yet to happen.  Regardless, I think the bat will play and for fantasy owners, if he can stay behind the plate, it’s going to be a huge bonanza in value.

While he’s played well all year in Double-A, he’s hitting .433 with a .900 SLG in eight games in August.

2. Kyle Tucker (Hou, OF, Triple-A)

How the Astros were able to acquire Zack Greinke and not have to give up Kyle Tucker was impressive.  No disrespect to the players the Diamondbacks got, but Tucker has a chance to be an impact performer at the highest level.  In fact, in almost any other organization, he would likely already be up and contributing.  However, he plays for the Astros and he’s blocked.  He’s clearly solved the level with 31 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and a .350 on-base percentage.  In August alone, he’s hit five home runs with a .417 OBP.

While Tucker has all the tools to become a star in the major leagues, I still must point out that there is a hitch in his swing.  Yes, longtime readers, I’m sure are tired of me pointing this out.  But, it does bother me.  I do not attribute this to his poor major league debut as the sample size is just too small to make any determination.  The power is real and early in his career, he’s going to steal bases.  In fact, he could be a 20/20 contributor through his mid-20’s before a trail off in speed is likely.  But that speed could be replaced by home runs as he’ll fill out and get stronger.

With the necessary caveat, Tucker has star potential.  He could easily become a top 30 pick in a Fantasy Draft.  When will that be?  I just don’t know, but I can’t see him spending a ton of time in Triple-A again next season.  What would be the point?

3. Evan White (Sea, 1B, Double-A)

After an off July, Evan White is back to hitting well as he’s slashing .320/.346/.680 in six games in August.  I’ve come full circle on White this year as he’s hitting, hitting for power and when you combine that with exceptional defense at first, I’ve become very intrigued.  I think there’s a chance for 20 to 25 home runs with a solid batting average and on-base percentage.  Perhaps the power will not be enough at first, but let’s see what he does next year when he starts using the Major League ball.

4. Francisco Alvarez (NYM, C, Rookie)

One of the sexy pickups this summer in Dynasty Leagues has been New York Mets catcher, Francisco Alvarez.  It’s been for good reason.  The 17-year-old started the year in the GCL and after posting a 1.395 OPS in seven games, the Mets moved him to the Appy League where he has continued to play well.  It should be noted that he is the youngest player in the league as well as being the only 17-year-old in the league.

There’s a lot to like about Alvarez from both an offensive and defensive perspective.  He has a very nice compact swing with excellent bat speed that he gets from great hand and forearm strength.  I like players that generate power this way as the power will look like it comes out of nowhere.  Alex Bregman has great hand and forearm strength and at 6-feet and 180 pounds, he doesn’t look like he has 35 to 40 home run power, but he does.  While I don’t think Alvarez will have that kind of power, I think he hits with a chance for 20 home runs annually.

While on the surface, Alvarez has years until he will make his debut in the Major Leagues.  However, given what he has done in 2019, he could easily start Low-A in 2020 and be in Double-A by 2022 with a chance to be a Top 100 player.  Therefore, now is the time to invest.

5. Brett Baty (NYM, 3B, Rookie)

Brett Baty made quick work of the GCL and was quickly promoted to the Appy League.  As the 12th overall pick, it made sense.  The problem is he’s hit .180 in 28 games including striking out 27% of the time.  He’s better than this and has played better in August.  I liked the pick at the time and continue to be bullish on the young third baseman.

Josh Smith (NYY, SS, Short-Season)

Drafted in the second round last June, Josh Smith has gotten off to a fast start to his professional career.  He’s hitting .404 in 14 games in the New York Penn League with two home runs and three stolen bases.  The LSU product also has walked 12 times while only striking out three times.  If it weren’t for him starting late, the Yankees likely would have already promoted him to Charleston.

Smith has always demonstrated an ability to make good contact and control the strike zone.  In his junior year at LSU, he posted a 15% strikeout rate and a 10% walk rate.  He has a compact swing but his swing lacks loft, so the power will likely be more doubles than over-the-fence.  He’s also a solid runner and should be able to 15+ bases annually.  The ceiling is a full-time regular with solid across the board skills but without a standout tool.  If you’re looking for a comp, I’m thinking Kevin Newman, the young shortstop with Pittsburgh.

6. Lewin Diaz (Mia, 1B, Double-A)

Lewin Diaz was part of the return when Sergio Romo was traded to the Twins in July.  He didn’t waste any time impressing his new team as he went on a power tear hitting five home runs in the first 10 games of August.  The power outburst wasn’t a total surprise as he hit 20 bombs across High and Double-A while with the Twins earlier in the season.

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds (he looks heavier), Diaz is a big kid with a swing that will naturally have holes.  However, he’s always made good contact, averaging 17% throughout his minor league career.  He’s got solid power and that in combination with his ability to make solid contact gives him some intrigue for fantasy owners.  While I’m not ready to add him in most Dynasty League formats, he’s on my watch list.

7. Tristen Lutz (Mil, OF, High-A)

Tristen Lutz has put up an almost identical year to what he did in 2018.  In Low-A, he posted a .742 OPS with 16 home runs and so far in 2019, he’s put up .783 OPS with 13 home runs in the Carolina League.  His calling card continues to be his double-plus raw power but contact issues remain.  In 113 games, he’s struck out 136 times or a 29% K/9 ratio.

So, net-net, Lutz is the modern-day player.  The big raw power that is starting to translate into plus in-game power with a lot of strikeouts.  He’s not overly aggressive at the plate, so he could potentially put up a .240/.340/.500 slash line in the big leagues.  The average and on-base percentage will be affected annually by his BABIP.  Speed will be minimal, but he could steal a hand full of bases annually.

He makes our list due to hitting .381 in August with four home runs.  Unfortunately, he’s also struck out 11 times in 10 games.

8. Nick Schnell (TB, OF, Short-Season)

Nick Schnell was selected in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft as a toolsy high-school kid that was very raw at the plate.  He didn’t get a chance to contribute much in his draft year as he was limited to 19 games due to injury.  He’s healthy now and playing very well in the Appy League where he’s slashing .292/.372/.533 with five home runs and five stolen bases.  He’s been particularly hot in August as he’s slugged .865, hitting three of his five home runs.

He has plus bat speed but his current swing lacks loft, so he’s currently more a doubles-hitter.  The concern continues to be his approach at the plate and his ability to make contact.  In 152 plate appearance, he’s posted a 30% strikeout rate and if it weren’t for a .410 BABIP, his average would have been more .230 than .290.  He’s not yet on my “own” list in Dynasty Leagues, but I am watching as I do like the combination of power and speed.

9. Josh Rojas (Ari, 2B, Majors)

Josh Rojas was the least discussed player in the deadline deal that sent Zack Greinke to the Astros.  What has Rojas done since the trade?  In eight games in Reno, he hit .514 with three home runs and a stolen base.  The Diamondbacks liked what they saw and promoted him to the Major Leagues on Monday where he made his debut on Monday night where he went 2 for 4.

So, who is Rojas and is he any good?  In short, he can hit with plus speed and a little bit of power.  Across three stops in 2019 in the Minor League, he stole 32 bases in 42 attempts with a 15% strikeout rate and a 12% walk rate.  That’s not Jose Altuveish, but it’s still pretty darn good.  He’s played all over the field this year and will likely continue that utility type role in his promotion to the big leagues.

PITCHERS

1. Joe Ryan (TB, RHP, High-A)

One of the best pitchers in 2019 has been Joe Ryan.  He started the year in Low-A and in five starts, he posted a 2.66 ERA striking out 41 in 23.2 innings.  The Rays quickly promoted him to the Florida State League where he continued to have no problems with the competition.  In 16 games, he pitched to a 1.32 ERA striking out over 12 per nine and walking just a shade over one per nine.  He might have had his best start last week when he pitched seven one-hit innings striking out 13 without walking anyone.

Ryan doesn’t have overwhelming stuff but can still run his fastball up to 96 MPH.   His curveball is already a plus offering, and it plays up because he’s able to throw it for strikes.  The change-up is not there yet but he is throwing it more and more to improve the offering.  The ceiling is a number three starter but given the improvements, he’s made this season; it could be even higher.

2. Cristian Javier (Hou, RHP, Double-A)

Signed in 2014 from the Dominican Republic, right-hander Cristian Javier is having a nice season for the Corpus Christi Hooks in the Texas League.  In 17 games, he’s pitched to 2.02 ERA striking out 13 per nine and giving up only 33 hits.  He doesn’t always know where the ball is going as he’s walked 4.6 per nine but the low hit rate suggests that batters are not picking up his pitches well.

Javier doesn’t light up the radar gun with a fastball that sits in the Low-90s, but his high spin rate provides extra life on the pitch.  The delivery also provides some funk with a fast arm action.  But the delivery also is the source of his control issues as it’s far from smooth with little semblance of a consistent release slot. But, it’s working as the hit rate tells the story.  Ultimately, I think Javier moves to the pen and that should allow his fastball to play up and provide an even better profile.

3. Kris Bubic (KC, LHP, High-A)

In an organization with surprisingly deep pitching depth, Kris Bubic continues to shine.  He started the year in the Sally League where he had no trouble.  In nine starts, he pitched to a 2.08 ERA striking out 14 per nine while walking less than three per nine.  It has been more of the same with his promotion to the Carolina League where in 13 starts, he’s pitched to a 2.62 ERA striking out 10.4 per nine while walking 2.5 per nine.  His last outing might have been his best.  On August 8th, he pitched a complete game, three-hitter, where he gave up one earned run while striking out 13 and walking one.

He has good stuff with a fastball that sits in the low-90s with a lot of downward action.  His best secondary pitch is his change-up and has proven too much for young A-ball hitters.  His third pitch is his curveball that grades out as at least average as well.  If you add it all up, he profiles as a high-end number four, perhaps a number three starter in the big leagues.  That should be plenty good enough to give him a long career and help fantasy owners alike.  Plus, with such a good change-up, he could have some early success as has been the pattern of other recent similar pitchers.

4. Matt Manning (Det, RHP, Double-A)

I continue to be very high on Matt Manning, the Detroit athletic right-hander.  This season in Double-A, he’s had no trouble with the level of competition.  In 21 starts, he’s posted a 2.57 ERA, striking out over 10 per nine while keeping his walks to a minimum (2.7 per nine).  Last week, he tossed six shutout innings, giving up four hits, striking out 10 without issuing a free pass.

While Casey Mize is the higher-rated pitcher, it’s not by much.  In fact, on our mid-season Top 100 list, Manning was only 13 spots behind Mize, checking in a number 18.  He’s got the size, premium arsenal and athleticism to pitch at the top of the rotation.

The delivery has also really taken shape.  I had a chance to scout a game in June and the extension he gets is impressive.  It reminds me of the extension that Tyler Glasnow gets and given his size, it looks like he’s on top of batters.  There’s plenty of 6’s and 7’s on the radar gun with a plus curveball and a change-up that has really improved.

He’ll likely start 2020 in Triple-A and given the injuries that Mize has endured, he could be the first one up.  Regardless, the Tigers have a great 1-2 in Mize or Manning…or vis, Versa.

5. Levi Kelly (Ari, RHP, High-A)

Drafted in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Levi Kelly had a strong 2019 campaign.  Pitching the entire year in the Midwest League, the 6-foot-4 right-hander posted a 1.96 ERA striking out over 11.5 per nine while walking 3.3 per nine.  In his two starts in August, he’s been even better.  In 11 innings, he’s given up one earned runs, seven hits, while striking out 15 and walking four.

The Diamondbacks have managed his innings very effectively not allowing him to pitch over six innings in any one start. After April, he never gave up more than two runs in any one outing.  He’s got solid stuff across the board with a fastball that sits 92 to 94 MPH, a slider that is his primary outpitch, and a feel for a change-up.  The control is not always present and there is some effort in his delivery.  However, the Diamondbacks think he could develop into a mid-rotation starter and given his progression to-date, that seems totally reasonable.

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Week 20 Waiver Wire Pickups

Waiver WireAs we come down the backstretch, the waiver wire starts to get a little thin. But, there are still many quality players that could help your team now.

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

 

Aristides Aquino, OF, CIN (CBS: 64% owned)

When we mentioned Aquino last week, he was owned in a scant 1% of Leagues. I checked Saturday morning and he was owned to the tune of 29%. He hit three homers Saturday night against the Cubs, and lo and behold this morning he’s owned in 64% of the Leagues using CBS. That’s a lot of Leagues that have daily pickups.

Jon Berti, 2B/3B/SS/OF, MIA (CBS: 3% owned)

In the past week, Berti has gone 10-for-23 with a pair of stolen bases and five runs scored, hitting at the top-of-the-order. He qualifies at every position other than first base and catcher. If you’re looking to fill your “need for speed”, and provide solid injury depth, go get him!

Lewis Brinson, OF, MIA (CBS: 7% owned)

16 homers and 16 stolen bases in 296 at-bats at New Orleans. A strikeout-to-walk rate of 100/32. It’s the same Lewis Brinson that we’ve come to expect, but the Marlins will wheel him out there on a regular basis over the duration of 2019. If the BA isn’t a concern, the counting stats could come in handy.

Tony Gonsolin, SP, LAD (CBS: 7% owned)

Gonsolin got the call last Monday and proceed to toss six innings of two-hit ball with seven strikeouts in gaining his first big league win. The reward for that outstanding effort was a quick demotion back to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Don’t fret, as the Dodgers will be resting their regulars down the stretch. Buy now cheap and reap the rewards in September.

Derek Fisher, OF, TOR (CBS: 3% owned)

The return for Aaron Sanchez in the trade deadline deal with Houston has looked a lot better in the past week. He has hit a couple of homers and with the injury to Lourdes Gurriel, should see regular at-bats down the stretch.

Derek Law, RP, TOR (CBS: 4% owned)

Ken Giles could be on his way back to the 10-day IL. Derek Law is now up to three saves on the season, after his successful Saturday effort against the Yankees. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 appearances, dating back to July 21. The phrase, “I fought the Law and the Law won” is definitely a very relevant one.

Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK (CBS: 9% owned)

An ankle injury currently has him sidelined, but here’s hoping he recovers in time to flash some of that amazing speed for both Oakland and our Fantasy squads in September. In 454 at-bats at Triple-A Las Vegas, he has 17 homers and 21 stolen bases. We can take the homers with a grain of salt, being that he calls Las Vegas home. The stolen base potential shouldn’t be ignored.

Mark Melancon, RP, ATL (CBS: 28% owned)

The Braves made the right moves to strengthen their bullpen at the trade deadline, but they simply haven’t worked out. Shane Greene has struggled and has been replaced by former Giants veteran Mark Melancon. In his second appearance since being named closer, he allowed four earned runs, getting only one out in a loss to the Marlins. He still has the job, but his hold on it is tenuous at best.

Joe Ross, SP, WAS (CBS: 12% owned)

He’s now pitched back-to-back scoreless outings totaling 11 1/3 innings. The walks are still a concern but the strong Washington offense combined with the Reds, Pirates, and Cubs next up on the schedule, make Ross an intriguing streaming option in deeper formats.

Pedro Strop, RP, CHC (CBS: 16% owned)

Craig Kimbrel hits the IL with right knee inflammation. Brandon Kintzler hits the IL with a right pectoral injury. Brandon Morrow hasn’t tossed an inning since July 2018. Steve Cishek, who was supposed to be filling in for Kimbrel, was placed on the 10-day IL on Saturday with left hip inflammation. Things are currently so bad, the Cubs are longing for the days of Carl Edwards and Brad Brach. In a case of “the last man standing”, Pedro Strop who was just this past week activated off of the 10-day IL due to neck tightness issues, is the go-to guy in the ninth for the Cubs until the return of Craig Kimbrel.

Mike Tauchman, OF, NYY (CBS: 51% owned)

Tauchman has now mashed five homers while driving in 14 runs since the calendar flipped over to August. Yes, at some point there will be playing-time issues, but that time isn’t anywhere close-at-hand.

Rowdy Tellez, 1B, TOR (CBS: 7% owned)

Since his demotion in mid-July, Tellez has raked at Triple-A Buffalo. In 89 at-bats, he has mashed seven homers, driven in 21 runs, and is sporting a 1.154 OPS. It appears that whatever was ailing him earlier in the season has been resolved and we will see him back in Toronto come September.