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2020 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 15 Prospects

piratesOur review of the 2020 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 15 prospects is now available.

1. Mitch Keller (RHP)

2. Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B)

3. Oneil Cruz (SS)

4. Travis Swaggerty (OF)

5. Quinn Priester (RHP)

6. Cody Bolton (RHP)

7. Cal Mitchell (OF)

8. Sammy Siani (OF)

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

10. Lolo Sanchez (OF)

 

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.

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2020 Milwaukee Brewers Top 15 Prospects

1. Brice Turang (2B/SS)

2. Tristen Lutz (OF)

3. Mario Feliciano (C)

4. Ethan Small (LHP)

5. Zack Brown (RHP)

6. Antoine Kelly (LHP)

7. Corey Ray (OF)

8. Eduardo Garcia (SS)

9. Jacob Nottingham (C)

10. Aaron Ashby (LHP)

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.

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2020 Cincinnati Reds Top 15 Prospects

redsOur review of the 2020 Cincinnati Reds Top 15 prospects is now available.

1. Hunter Greene (RHP)

2. Jonathan India (3B)

3. Nick Lodolo (LHP)

4. Tyler Stephenson (C)

5. Tony Santillan (RHP)

6. Tyler Callihan (2B)

7. Mike Siani (OF)

8. Jose Garcia (SS)

9. Jameson Hannah (OF)

10. Rece Hinds (3B)

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.

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2020 Chicago Cubs Top 15 Prospects

Our review of the 2020 Chicago Cubs Top 15 prospects is now available.

1. Brennen Davis (OF)

2. Nico Hoerner (SS)

3. Miguel Amaya (C)

4. Brailyn Marquez (LHP)

5. Adbert Alzolay (RHP)

6. Pedro Martinez (SS)

7. Cole Roederer (OF)

8. Richard Gallardo (RHP)

9. Riley Thompson (RHP)

10. Cory Abbott (RHP)

Prospect 11-15 can be found here.

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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.