Leave a comment

2019 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 15 Prospects

Our review of the 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 15 prospects is now available.

1. Mitch Keller (RHP)

2. Travis Swaggerty (OF)

3. Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B)

4. O’Neil Cruz (SS)

5. Calvin Mitchell (OF)

6. Kevin Newman (SS)

7. Cole Tucker (SS)

8. Bryan Reynolds (OF)

9. Kevin Kramer (SS/2B/3B)

10. Jason Martin (OF)

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.

Leave a comment

2019 Milwaukee Brewers Top 15 Prospects

Our review of the 2019 Milwaukee Brewers Top 15 prospects is now available.

1. Keston Hiura (2B)

2. Corey Ray (OF)

3. Brice Turang (SS)

4. Lucas Erceg (3B)

5. Mauricio Dubon (SS)

6. Tristen Lutz (OF)

7. Jacob Nottingham (C)

8. Zack Brown (RHP)

9. Joe Gray (OF)

10. Carlos Rodriguez (OF)

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.


Leave a comment

2019 Cincinnati Reds Top 15 Prospects

Our review of the 2019 Cincinnati Reds Top 15 prospects is now available.

1. Nick Senzel (3B)

2. Taylor Trammell (OF)

3. Hunter Greene (RHP)

4. Jonathan India (3B)

5. Tony Santillan (RHP)

6. Jeter Downs (2B)

7. Tyler Stephenson (C)

8. Jose Siri (OF)

9. Shed Long (2B)

10. Vladimir Gutierrez (RHP)

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.


Leave a comment

2019 Chicago Cubs Top 15 Prospects

Our review of the 2019 Chicago Cubs Top 15 prospects is now available.

1. Miguel Amaya (C)

2. Adbert Alzolay (RHP)

3. Cole Roederer (OF)

4. Brailyn Marquez (LHP)

5. Aramis Ademan (SS)

6. Richard Gallardo (RHP)

7. Trent Giambrone (2B)

8. Oscar de la Cruz (RHP)

9. Cory Abbott (RHP)

10. Nico Hoerner (SS)

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.


Leave a comment

Hot Prospects – Week 19

Where did the season go?  It’s the end of August and the minor league season will conclude this Sunday.  To that end, this will be our official final article for our Hot Prospects series.  It’s been fun presenting you with nearly 200 minor league players throughout these 20 weeks.  Next stop is our rankings of the Top 15 prospects in each organization.  As usual, we will start with the Cubs and move methodically through each system.  Over the past few weeks, we have been giving you a preview of what our write-ups will look like. This week, we have done the same.  We have focused less on what the player did in the past week but instead, shared the development of each player.  We did use the same criteria for selecting the players, so when Kyle Tucker hit seven home runs in a week, well, he’s hot.

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

Kyle Tucker (OF, Hou, Triple-A) – Kyle Tucker’s first 20 games in the major leagues have not gone well.  He’s hit .154 and has yet to leave the yard.  While I’m sure he’s frustrated, instead of pouting, he’s taking it out on the minor league ball (by the way, the minor league ball is different than the major league ball).  Since his demotion, he’s 15 for 28 with seven home runs and for good measure, three stolen bases.  He’ll likely get a September call-up to help the Astros down the stretch.

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.  But, 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 league as early as 2020.  For the savvy fantasy player, yes I’m predicting a potentially monster season in 2019 that could rival Vlad Jr. and Eloy.

Jhoan Urena (OF, NYM, Double-A) – Jhoan Urena had a week, or more precisely a day.  On August 23rd, the Mets outfielder went 3 for 5 with three home runs; two of which were grannies.  Daily fantasy players can only drool of the thought of cleaning up had Urena done that in the big leagues.

The Mets signed the 6-foot-1 outfielder in 2011 and the early results were quite positive.  He showed some pop and speed with a semblance of an approach at the plate.  However, as he moved through the system, he got stuck in High-A as he was beating everything into the ground.  A poor BABIP led to a low average and he was stuck.  Things turned around last season and 2018, he showed continued success.  He’s likely a fourth outfielder but does have some pop and speed that could make him fantasy relevant in short burst.

Ibandel Isabel (1B, Cin, High-A) – The Florida State League is a pitchers league.  The ballparks are large and the wind in Florida can really whip in the summertime.  Therefore, to see a kid with 36 home runs is indeed impressive.  To know that amount leads all minor leaguers, well, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Isabel’s carrying tool is clearly his 80-grade raw power.  The issue, as seems to always be the case is will he hit enough to get to that power.  In High-A, that’s not been a problem.  However, the 36 home runs have come with a 36% strikeout rate and that will likely not play as he continues his march through the system.  To be successful, he needs to cut down on his long swing and while on the surface, that seems simple to do, it’s not.  He’s a kid to monitor as next season will tell us a lot on whether this was a building season or just an outlier.

Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHW, Triple-A) – Living in Charlotte North Carolina, I’ve had a chance to see Eloy Jimenez a ton this season.  The first thing you notice when laying eyes on him is just his sheer size.  At 6-foot-4 and a listed 205 pounds, he looks more like a tight end than an outfielder.  I had seen him play over the past couple of years and could attest to the double-plus power which has been very real again this year.  But what has impressed me the most this year is his much-improved approach.  His strikeout rate in 207 plate appearance for the Knights is 12.1%.  If he can do that at the next level, he’s not that far off from Vlad Jr.  In other words, you’re looking at a Miguel Cabrera starter kit.  While I’m not convinced that the upside is a .300 hitter if you told me he would hit .270 with 40 home runs annually that would not surprise me in the least.

For those of you waiting for him to make his major league debut this season, I just don’t see that happening.  The White Sox have nothing to play for this season and having seven years of team control instead of six is the right baseball decision.  So, we wait…probably until late April 2019.

Evan White (1B, Sea, High-A) – Through July, Evan White was doing what I thought he would do.  He has an advanced approach who makes good contact and could one day hit .300.  He had also hit six home runs which might be ok if he played second base.  However, he’s a first baseman and that is just a problem.

August though rolled along and White hit six home runs in the month.  An outlier?  A result of playing in the California League?  Likely, but it also demonstrates the potential.  While the comp continues to be James Loney (I know, fantasy owners never like to hear that comparison), I’m still not willing to give up on the bat just yet.  He’s a big, strong kid that if he can add some leverage to his swing, could change the calculus significantly.  In fact, it happens all the time.

Austin Riley (3B, Atl, Triple-A) – After a slow start to his tenure in Triple-A, Austin Riley played much better as the season wore on.  In fact, he’s gone 11 for 24 with three home runs in the last week starting the drumbeat again for a big league promotion.  While it’s possible, I continue to believe that he’s not ready and is being overhyped in fantasy circles.

Riley’s carrying tool is his double-plus power that has shown up as more doubles-power so far, as opposed to over-the-fence power.  However, there is legitimate 25 to 30 home run pop in the bat.  The problem is his penchant to strikeout.  He’s averaged over a 25% strikeout rate in his minor league career and in Triple-A, that has ballooned to 30%.  He also does not walk a lot and together, it’s conceivable that he could hit .230 or less and struggle to receive consistent playing time.  That said, I do believe he will see considerable playing time in Atlanta next season and 2020.  If he can cut down his strikeout rate, then he’ll be a full-time regular, perhaps an all-star.  If he can’t, then he’s not going to get full-time at-bats for a potential Championship team.

Taylor Trammell (OF, Cin, High-A) – Taylor Trammell played the entire season as a 20-year-old in the Florida State League and put up his third year of solid stats.  He didn’t put up that gaudy stat line like he did with 41 stolen bases in 2017, but eight home runs, 24 stolen bases, and a .374 OBP is outstanding.

Trammell has the tools to become an explosive leadoff batter in the big leagues.  He has plus speed, a very good approach at the plate and power that should start to emerge as he matures.  The extra tool is his makeup.  While some readers might skip over that comment, don’t.  In my opinion, makeup is the most overlooked element in a prospect’s profile, mostly because you can’t measure it.  But in talking with people around the game, nearly everyone says that his makeup is off-the-charts – a hard worker, positive attitude, and a good person.

The Reds should start him in Double-A next season with a chance to see the big leagues in 2020.

Tony Santillan (RHP, Cin, Double-A) – One of the big pop-up pitchers for 2018 is Tony Santillan.  We’ve long big a fan of his premium stuff and athleticism, but his inability to throw strikes had been holding him back. That changed this year as he walked a batter less an inning from his minor league average.  Not only did he do that in High-A to begin the season, but repeated it in Double-A where he arguably pitched better.

It’s been a while since the Reds have developed a true top-of-the-rotation starter and while Santillan is still not in the category, his combination of stuff and athleticism gives him a legitimate shot.  He’ll pitch the entire 2019 season as a 22-year-old and since he still has one year remaining before the Reds have to put him on the 40-man roster, the likelihood of a call-up is not high.  Of course, if the Reds surprise early in the season, the calculus could change.

Mitch White (RHP, LAD, Double-A) – Mitch White was one of the early surprise players two years ago when after an impressive Spring Training, he was dominant in several early season starts in the California League.  However, injuries hit and he has struggled to make it back to the level he showed in early 2017.  He started the 2018 season once again on the disabled list, not seeing game action until May.  When he did pitch, he wasn’t very good.  At the end of April, he was sporting a 9.69 ERA with nearly as many walks as strikeouts.

As the season progressed, White started to turn into form and by August, he was pitching to a 2.08 ERA with a 25:3 strikeout-to-walk rate.  The stuff is still good and assuming his control issues are behind him, White has the ceiling of a number three or perhaps number two pitcher.  He has premium stuff with a delivery he can repeat.  If an owner in your league got frustrated and released White, which is totally understandable, adding him to your roster in a dynasty league is a prudent move.

Touki Toussaint (RHP, Atl, Triple-A) – When the Braves bought Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks in 2015 for what amounted to six million dollars, many cried foul.  While his stat line for Kane County that year showed the potential, he was very much a project.  Spin forward three years and those six million dollars looks like a bargain.

I saw Toussaint in high school and he had the electric arm.  He also had no idea where the ball was going.  The Braves were able to help him harness his premium stuff and now he’s ready for a full-time rotation spot with a chance to pitch at the very top of the rotation.  The athleticism was always there, he just needed time to grow into his long and lanky body. He’s only 23 and there will clearly be some ups-and-downs, but the stuff is for real and if his one major league outing is any indication, he’s just about ready to join the ranks of some of the uber-talented young pitches in baseball.

Leave a comment

Waiver Wire – Week 23

September call-ups are around the corner and our waiver wire list is still going strong.  This week’s list can be found here.

Leave a comment

Hot Prospect Week 19

We focus on two types of players in this week’s update.  Several that were true breakout players last season but haven’t been heard from this year.  Why?  Where did they go?  Read on and find out.  The second group is young kids that are starting to make a name for themselves.  Who are they?  Read on and find out.  And if you’re wondering, yes Vlad Jr. was very good this week.

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

Estevan Florial (OF, NYY, High-A) – Estevan Florial was on one of the significant pop-up prospects last season after showing an intriguing combination of power and speed.  However, a .404 BABIP helped disguise a 28% strikeout rate and enabled the outfielder to hit an impressive .297 in Charleston and .303 in Tampa to end last season.  The poor contact rate caught up to him this season as he hit .245 in April and May before requiring hamate surgery that caused him to miss six weeks of action.

Once he returned, he caught fire hitting .347 in July and .309 so far in August.  The power has been slow to return, slugging only .372 with three home runs.  But once fully healthy, there is definitely plus power in the bat with a chance to hit 25 to 30 home runs while adding 15 to 20 stolen bases.  However, the contact is a problem and with his long swing, fantasy owners might have to settle for a low batting average in the .230 range to go along with the home runs and stolen bases.  The good news is he demonstrates the ability to take a walk, so in OBP Leagues, that might be acceptable.

Austin Hays (OF, Bal, Double-A) – After having one of the best statistical performance in all of the minor leagues in 2017, Austin Hays seemed primed to make a major contribution in Baltimore this season.  But, the baseball gods had other ideas as an ankle and shoulder injury zapped his power causing him to struggle mightily to start the season.  Finally, the Orioles shut him down in late May and while he didn’t set the world on fire when he returned, he’s played much better in August.  In fact, over the past week, he was 10 for 21 with two home runs.

We still like Hays long-term and believe he has 20 home run upside and assuming he can become more patient at the plate, he has the ability to hit .260 to .270 with upside.

Bubba Thompson (OF, Tex, Low-A) – The Rangers drafted toolsy Bubba Thompson in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft with the hope that he could assemble at least an average hit tool so that his plus speed and emerging power would play.  He’s shown plenty of speed (28 stolen bases) and the great bat speed is starting to translate into power.  However, a 27% strikeout rate and a 6.5% walk rate illustrates that the hit tool is still lagging behind.  If it all comes together, you’re looking at a 20/20 performer with upside on both the power and speed.  If it doesn’t, then he might follow a Lewis Brinson type of development curve, which as a Brinson loyalist, is incredibly painful.

The potential, though, has been demonstrated this month.  In 16 games, he’s hitting .323 with a .382 OBP with three home runs and five stolen bases.  How’s the strikeout rate, you ask?  Or at least you should…it’s the same…28%.  I didn’t calculate the BABIP but I’m guessing it’s .400 plus.

Keibert Ruiz (C, LAD, Double-A) – It’s easy to see a .254 batting average and question whether the hype surrounding Keibert Ruiz is warranted.  Then you realize that he just turned 20, is in Double-A and is a catcher.  Remember, catchers have to spend considerable time working on their defensive skills and is one of the reasons they are slow to develop offensively.  But Ruiz is doing just fine.  He’s controlling the strike zone very well and showing good over-the-fence pop.  The upside continues to be a Top five fantasy catcher with a chance to hit 15 to 20 home runs and bat .280.

After a down July, he’s back to hitting the ball to all fields with a .357 batting average in August with more walks than strikeouts.  Again, if you are an owner, don’t panic, just be patient as goodness should arrive next season or in 2020.

Blaze Alexander (SS, Ari, Rookie) – You don’t generally see an 11th round pick make a top prospect list in his first year of professional ball, but Blaze Alexander is making the Diamondbacks look really smart.  Granted, he got paid like he was a fourth-round pick ($500,000) but the early returns are showing that he could have been a first or second-round pick.  He’s demonstrating power, speed and the ability to control the strike zone.  In 42 games, he has a slash line of .353/.443/.582 with four home runs and nine stolen bases.  He’ll likely start in Low-A to begin the 2019 campaign, and if he performs, he’ll start to climb prospect list very quickly.  If I were you, I’d jump on the train before it’s too late.

Nick Solak (2B, TB, Double-A) – While many people have heard of the more famous players in the Rays organization, fantasy owners need to start familiarizing themselves with the “second tier” players.   Perhaps leading that list is Nick Solak.  He’s done nothing but hit since being drafted in the second round by the Yankees in the 2016 MLB Draft.  This year, the power has developed and he’s stolen 21 bases.  Throw in a 19% strikeout rate and a 12% walk rate and it’s easy to get excited.  He spent the entire season in Double-A and should be ready for Triple-A next season.  If it all goes well, don’t be surprised to see him in St. Petersburg in the second half.

Want more?  In 19 games in August, he’s hitting .355 with as many walks as strikeouts while hitting four home runs and stealing two bags.

Freudis Nova (SS, Hou, Rookie) – Last year I added Freudis Nova to most of my Dynasty Leagues.  I loved the power/speed combination and from talking with evaluators who laid eyes on him in the DSL last summer, they believed he would hit.  This year, It all seems to be coming together for the teenager.  In 38 games in rookie ball, he’s hitting .311 with six home runs and eight stolen bases.  Sure, he’s only walked six times but assuming he can learn some patience, the Astros could be looking at a very intriguing talent.

Eric Pardinho (RHP, Tor, Short Season) – One of the more intriguing players signed last year during the International signing period was 5-foot-10 Brazilian right-hander Eric Pardinho.  The Blue Jays paid him a $1.4 million dollar signing bonus and brought him to their complex to start the process.  The work is starting to pay off as his fastball has taken a noticeable tick up and his secondary pitches can now consistently miss bats.  While he’s only performed in rookie ball, the results have been outstanding.  He’s pitched to a 2.93 ERA while striking out over 11 per nine and walking 2.5 per nine.  He’s also given up five home runs and that points to the concern.  He’s only 5-foot-10 and while he his delivery helps him stay “tall”, he’s going to be prone to giving up the long ball.

Ultimately, I think he becomes a bullpen arm but the Blue Jays will keep him starting for the foreseeable future.

Parker Dunshee (RHP, Oak, Double-A) – With the A’s ability to recycle presumed over-the-hill pitchers to relevant, if not dominating pitchers, maybe they don’t need young pitchers in their system.  Just convert them all to bats!  But in the meantime, they’ve got some very good arms.  With no disrespect to Jesus Luzardo, Parker Dunshee is making the case to be their pitcher of the year.  He’s pitched extremely well in Double-A, pitching to a 2.44 ERA while striking out over a batter an inning while walk 1.4 per nine.  The problem is his stuff is just average.  His fastball sits in the low 90’s with average to slightly above-average secondary pitchers.  However, they all play up because of his ability to throw each pitch for strikes.

Kris Bubic (LHP, KC, Rookie) – Drafted in the supplemental first round last June, Kris Bubic has had an inconsistent start to his professional career.  Pitching in the Pioneer League, he got off to a difficult start pitching to a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings in July.  However, as he got more comfortable, the stuff got sharper and August has been much better.  In 19 innings, he’s pitched to a 1.89 ERA with 32 strikeouts and only five walks.  He’s currently a fastball/change-up pitcher with his fastball sitting in the low-90s.  With his change-up ahead of his curveball, he’ll likely have early success as batters in the minor league will be fooled.  However, as he moves through the system, the curveball will have to improve in order for him to his hit ceiling of a number four pitcher.


Leave a comment

Waiver Wire – Week 22

We have a really fun waiver wire list for you this week with 15 names to review and analyze.  The list can be found here.

Leave a comment

Hot Prospects – Week 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Waiver Wire – Week 21

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