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2018 Mid Season Top 50 Prospects (1 through 25)

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

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

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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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2018 Mid Season Top 50 Prospects (26 through 50)

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

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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

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Waiver Wire – Week 16

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

The list can be found here.

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Hot Prospects – Week 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Waiver Wire – Week 15

As we head into July, it’s now officially trading season.  There are rumors that things will be very active, particularly early.  If so, it will be critical to tune into our waiver wire as we try and anticipate some of the more obvious changes and possibly some of the more subtle implications.

This weeks list can be found here.

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Hot Prospects – Week 12

We are deep into the season and the creme is rising to the top.  Unfortunately, Vlad Jr. is still hurting but another top prospect, Kyle Tucker is raking.  I still worry about the hitch in his swing but the results speak for themselves.  A couple of players in rookie ball make their debut on this list with some crazy stolen base totals.  For Dynasty League owners, be careful with adding too many of these teenagers as most of them will break your heart.

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

Brandon Lowe (2B, TB, Triple-A) – When we wrote about Brandon Lowe (Ray’s #7 Prospect) during the pre-season, we comp’d him to Logan Forsythe and he was one of the reasons the Rays felt comfortable moving Forsythe to the Dodgers.  The trade, unfortunately, didn’t work out for either team, but Lowe, well, he continues to develop.  In fact, over the past nine games, he’s hit seven home runs.  Now, he doesn’t have that type of power but he still should be able to hit 12 to 18 home runs with a solid .270 batting average while adding low double-digit stolen bases.  It’s kind of like Logan Forsythe’s 2016 season.  That was of course before the wheels fell off after he was traded to the Dodgers.

Kyle Tucker (OF, Hou, Triple-A) – I’ve been torn about Kyle Tucker.  He’s done nothing but hit since the Astros drafted him fifth overall in the 2015 draft, posting a career .821 OPS.  However, he does have a hitch in his swing that just bugs me.  So far, it’s not been a problem and perhaps it never will, but I thought the same thing about Gregory Polanco and consequently, he has not developed into the superstar performer I thought he could become.  The Astros have publically said that Tucker is a candidate to be promoted in the second half and after a June where he hit .393 with a .685 SLG, it’s hard to argue he needs more time in the minor leagues.

Rylan Bannon (3B, LAD, High-A) – Rylan Bannon draft report card said: plus defender, ability to control the strike zone with a big question mark around his power.  While I know it’s the California League, but 17 home runs in 69 games is still pretty impressive.  It does look like he’s exchanged power for contact as his strikeout rate is averaging 24% this year.  But, if he can hit 20 to 25 home runs with plus infield defense, he’ll have a chance to be a full-time regular at the highest level.

Mason Martin (1B, Pit, R) – In 44 games in Low-A, Mason Martin really struggled, posting a .644 OPS and a 35% strikeout rate.  The Pirates brought him back to the complex in May and reassigned him to Rookie Ball in the Appy League and things have gone much better.  In eight games, he’s hit five home runs while posting a 1.300 OPS.  If he can cut down his strikeouts, the power will definitely play.  The good news is he just turned 19, so he still has a lot of time to develop.

Geraldo Perdomo (2B/SS, Ari, R) – Geraldo Perdomo made his minor league debut two weeks ago in the AZL and in nine games has posted a .863 OPS with nine stolen bases.  He doesn’t have a ton of power yet but has the frame and swing mechanics that should allow him to develop at least average power.  He has a good feel for hitting and has demonstrated the ability to control the strike zone, at least in a very small sample size.

Jeison Guzman (SS, KC, R) – The Royals spent $1.5 million dollars to sign Jeison Guzman out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.  He’s been slow to develop, including being moved out of his full-season assignment this year in early May.  However, in seven games in the Appy League, he’s shown promise by posting a 1.027 OPS with two home runs and six stolen bases.

Kyle Wright (RHP, Atl, Double-A) – Even with their recent promotions, the Braves are still stacked in the minor leagues, particularly with pitching.  Kyle Wright, who I believed was the most big league ready pitcher to come out of the 2017 draft has had an inconsistent year in Double-A.  He’s shown good swing and miss stuff but has also walked nearly four per nine.  Over his last two outings though he has really upped the ante.  In 12.2 innings, he’s struck out 19 while walking only three.  It’s the profile of at least a solid number three pitcher with the chance to be more.

Lewis Thorpe (LHP, Min, Double-A) – It’s been a long way back from Tommy John surgery for the Aussie, but Lewis Thorpe is starting to develop into the pitcher the Twins hoped when they signed him in 2012.  While he’s sporting a 4.06 ERA, he has struck out over 11 per nine while walking less than three per nine through the end of June.  This includes back-to-back games this week against Biloxi where he struck out 19 while walking two in 12.2 innings.  At 6-foot-1, he’ll likely always be homer prone but the stuff should play quite well at the highest level.

Mitch Keller (RHP, Pit, Double-A) – Mitch Keller is one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues and nobody is talking about him.  He finished his stay in Double-A last week with a one-hitter over eight innings where he struck out six while walking two.  He has really good stuff but this year, it hasn’t resulted in a ton of strikeouts.  The reason is the Pirates are having him work on his change-up and fastball command which from just seeing him a couple of weeks ago, is going quite well.  But he’s a Pirate, so unless he signs a team-friendly deal, don’t expect to see him on the big league roster until the second half of 2019.

Jordan Yamamoto (RHP, Mia, High-A) – Jordan Yamamoto was the least famous of the four players that the Marlins received back in the Christian Yelich trade over the winter.  After starting the season on the DL, Yamamoto has pitched very well.  In five starts in June, he’s posted a 1.21 ERA with 30 strikeouts and six walks.  He doesn’t have premium stuff and at 6-feet, he doesn’t have the size you like to see in a starting pitcher, but his secondary pitches can miss bats and let’s face it, he’s one of the better pitching prospects in a very poor Marlins system.

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Week 14 Waiver Wire

With Arodys Vizcaino, Hunter Strickland and the trade of Kelvin Herrera, the closer carousel is in full force.  We have listed who we think are the appropriate pickups in each situation as well as a dozen other pickups for your review.

The list can be found here.

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Hot Prospects – Week 12

The minor league system marches on with the second half of the season for most leagues beginning later this week.  As I did last year, I had a chance to take-in the California League All-Star game.  This year’s game had better talent and was more pleasurable to attend.  Last year’s game was in Visalia California, where the game-time temperature was 109 degrees.  This year, the game was in Lancaster California, one of my favorite places to see a game.  It’s not a particularly nice stadium, but the fans are great and the ball flies out.  Both occurred this year, but only one of the teams was hitting.

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

Evan White (Sea, 1B, High-A) – Most minor league games I attend, and I attend a lot, don’t have many players that will make it to the show.  I try not to think about it too much, otherwise, I get bummed for the players, and bummed by my career choices.  But on Tuesday, I had a chance to see the California League All-Star game in Lancaster California and the teams were full of future major leaguers.  One of the most famous guys who played was Evan White, the Mariners first round pick in 2017.  He’s having a middling season, batting .263 with two home runs.  As one of the better college players coming out of that draft, I’m assuming the Mariners are disappointed.

At least for one evening, White showed his potential.  He pulled a 90 MPH fastball for a home run and hit a solid single later in the game.  He showed good bat speed and balance at the plate.  What he didn’t show in batting practice or game time was any leverage in his swing.  It’s a swing more geared to contact than power.  This is a problem as he’s a first baseman and this will not play.  At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, he’s big and strong enough to generate power, but as we’ve seen with Joe Mauer and James Loney, to name two, sometimes power just doesn’t come.

Dairon Blanco (Oak, OF, High-A) – The most impressive player at the California League All-Star game was Dairon Blanco, a 25-year-old Cuban émigré that last played ball in 2013.  He went 4 for 5 with a popup that turned into a home run.  Yeah, that happens a lot in Lancaster where the wind usually blows out to right field and it’s hot with an elevation. of 2,500 feet.  Despite the home run, he doesn’t project for much power but can hit with plus speed.

Alex Kirilloff (Min, OF, Low-A) – Fully recovered from Tommy John Surgery last season, Alex Kirilloff is showing the kind of talent that made him a first-round draft pick in 2016.  In 61 games in the Midwest League, he’s hitting .340 with 12 home runs and a reasonable 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.   After batting .371 in May and .387 in June, it shouldn’t be long before he calls Fort Myers his home.

Nick Senzel (Cin, 3B, Triple-A) – Most of the big prospects we thought would be promoted this year have in fact been promoted, except for one – Nick Senzel.  Unfortunately, he lost three weeks of time due to another bout of Vertigo.  The same thing sent him to the disabled list at the end of the 2017 season.  Hopefully, the problem is behind him; at least his production says it is.  In 15 games in June, he’s hitting .371 with a .532 SLG showing a good control of the strike zone.

Jo Adell (LAA, OF, High-A) – This is getting ridiculous.  Jo Adell continues to mash the ball and the 19-year-old is showing no signs of resistance since his promotion to High-A.  In 23 games, he’s hit eight home runs with five stolen bases.  It’s not all perfect as he has an ugly 30/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 112 plate appearances.  So, if you think Adell is going to do a Ronald Acuna, he needs to improve his 28% strikeout rate first.  That said, the other four tools will play and possibly very loudly at that.

Yordan Alvarez (Hou, OF, Double-A) – After spending five weeks on the disabled list, Yordan Alvarez went 7 for 15 with two home runs in his first three games back.  Overall, he’s slashing .320/.384/.582 with eight home runs in 30 games in Double-A.  Plus, he’s still young.  He only turns 22 next week.  The problem, of course, is he’s blocked all over the place in Houston.  The Astros have moved him to the outfield, but that didn’t help much as not only are the Astros stacked in the outfield in the majors, they have Derek Fisher in Triple-A and uber-prospect Kyle Tucker sitting in front of him.  As is always the case, playing time usually gets worked out.  It’s a good thing too, as Alvarez is becoming one of the best prospects in the game.

Taylor Ward (LAA, 3B, Triple-A) – In 2016 it looked Taylor Ward’s career had stalled.  He was asked to repeat High-A, which is never good for a first-round draft pick, particularly a college pick.  But, he started to figure things out and since then, he’s shown the talent that made him a first-round draft pick.  He was recently promoted to Triple-A and through 14 games he has a 1.030 OPS with three home runs and three stolen bases.  I don’t think he’ll be a star, but he showing enough in the upper minors that fantasy owners should take note.

Adrian Morejon (SD, LHP, High-A) – I was disappointed that neither Chris Paddack nor Adrian Morejon pitched in the California League All-Star Game.  Maybe Morejon was tired after striking out 12 of the 23 batters he faced four days prior.    Morejon has some of the best stuff in the Padres system and with three quality pitches already, could start to move quickly on his way to the big leagues.

Dane Dunning (CHW, RHP, Double-A) – The Adam Eaton trade continues to bear dividends for the White Sox – and yes, I’m in denial about how bad Lucas Giolito has been.  Dane Dunning, the third pitcher in the deal started the year in Winston-Salem but had no trouble in four games and was promoted to Double-A.  In 10 starts he’s posted a 2.78 ERA with 65 strikeouts and only 19 walks.  He’s not a flamethrower, sitting more 92 to 94 MPH but his secondary pitches have taken a nice step-up this year.

Adonis Medina (PHI, RHP, High-A) – I really liked Adonis Medina when I saw him pitch in Lakewood last season and was disappointed when he got off to a tough start in High-A.  He hit the DL in early May and has come back showing the kind of stuff and polish I saw last year.  In his 24 innings since his return, he’s given up three earned runs while striking out 27 and walking seven.  This includes a 10 strikeout performance earlier this week.

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Week 13 Waiver Wire

Our Week 13 Waiver Wire article has 20 players that could be able to help your team. As always we try and go deep with players that some of your fellow owners might not be considering. We also try to anticipate some moves that might happen in a few weeks so you can be the first on the block to take advantage.

The list can be found here.

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Hot Prospect – Week 11

Believe it or not, we are getting to the half-way point in the minor league season with the all-star games beginning next week.  It also signals the start of the expanded minor league season with short-season contest beginning.  That’s seven additional leagues in which to pull players.  Perhaps I should expand the list to 15?

With your feedback, I went a little deeper this week.  I focused on some guys who had truly great weeks, but not great seasons.  Are they real or just hot?  Read on and find out.

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

Jo Adell (LAA, OF, High-A) – Jo Adell continues to swing a hot bat and is hitting .340 in the month of June.  He’s a toolsy player with plus raw power and plus speed that could translate into a 20/20 player once he has fully developed.  The best part is that he’ll play the entire season as a 19-year, not turning 20 until next April.

Jake Rogers (Det, C, Double-A) – After hitting three home runs in a game earlier this week, Jake Rogers makes our Hot Prospect List.  Granted, he’s only hitting .187 for the season, but when you hit .381 in the month of May with a 1,000 SLG, you get noticed.  Rogers is a plus defender with a cannon for an arm and if he can continue to cut down on his strikeouts, he might be more than just a backup catcher in the big leagues.

Ryan Noda (Tor, OF, Low-A) – After batting .169 in May and .233 in April, Ryan has hit .406 since June 1st with six home runs and a SLG of 1,000.  Through his struggles and success, one thing has stayed constant – his ability to take a walk.  To-date, he has more walks than strikeouts with a 23% strikeout rate.  There is definite intrigue with Noda as he has a nice approach with plus raw power.  Before jumping totally in, let’s see what he can do as he moves to Dunedin of the Florida State League.

Keston Hiura (Mil, 2B, Double-A) – We know that Keston Hiura can hit, but since being promoted to Double-A on June 1st, he has five stolen bases. That’s nine for the year to go along with eight home runs and a plus hit-tool.  The Brewers are pushing him hard and he’s responding.  With Jonathon Villar sporting a 30% strikeout rate and a BABIP induced .277 batting average, it’s only a matter of time before Hiura pushes Villar to the utility role that better suits his skill set.

Khalil Lee (KC, OF, High-A) – After a slow start, Khalil Lee is starting to heat up.  In 11 games in June, he’s slashing .325/.386/.625 with two home runs and two stolen bases.  He still strikeouts out too much but the effect is muted given his ability to work a walk.  If it all comes together, he profiles as a prototypical corner outfielder with plus power.

Jhailyn Ortiz (Phi, OF, Low-A) – I really liked Jhailyn Ortiz entering the season, but after a rough start to the season and a trip to the DL, I was getting worried.  He’s really heated up in June with a .395 batting average and a .750 SLG.  The raw power is real but the approach is not.  In 37 games, he has struck out 50 times while only walking seven times.  Granted he’ll play the entire season as a teenager, but he needs to learn to control the strike zone better in order for him to reach his ceiling.

Chris Paddack (SD, RHP, High-A) – I’ll be at the California League all-star game next week and I’m assuming that Chris Paddack will get the honor to start the games for the South Team.  If not, there should be an investigation.  In eight starts, he has struck out 70 batters while only walking three.  Yes, that’s a 70-3 strikeout to walk ratio.  I’m assuming that game will be his swansong to the California League.  He’s primarily a fastball/change-up pitcher with his change-up being absolutely unhittable at-times.   I hear the curveball still needs work but will let you know once I see him next week.

Josh James (Hou, RHP, Triple-A) – In each of my Dynasty Leagues, Josh James was added over the past week.  Yes, that makes him the flavor of the week, and for good reason.  With a 2.36 ERA and nearly a 13.9 strikeout rate, he’s making the PCL look pretty easy.  The arsenal says starter, but if you haven’t seen him pitch, the delivery still says reliever.  There’s just a lot of effort in his delivery but so far, he looks like he can repeat it.

Jesus Luzardo (Oak, LHP, Double-A) – Jesus Luzardo continues to dazzle with back-to-back five-inning three-hit, eight strikeouts, and zero walk performances.   The former Nationals draftee has premium stuff with good control and should start to make noise for a big league promotion sometime next year.

Justin Dunn (NYM, RHP, Double-A) – When the Mets drafted Justin Dunn with their first pick in the 2016 draft, I cheered.  I loved the combination of stuff, athleticism, and makeup.  However, last season was a tough year for the 22-year-old right-hander as he pitched to a 5.00 ERA.  This season though has been a different story.  He righted the ship with a return to the Florida State League flashing his premium stuff and pitching to a 1.52 ERA in eight starts.  The Mets promoted him to Binghamton last week and in his debut, he pitched seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts.