One of my favorite articles to write every spring is our May Pop-up Prospects. It’s a list of players, many of which I’ve seen this year who have impressed me or others within the industry. Hopefully there will be a few names that are new to you and have yet to be rostered in your Dynasty Leagues. If so, run out and start picking them up.
Amed Rosario (NYM, SS)
Amed Rosario was our number 27th ranked prospect entering the season but given his performance and proximity to the majors, he’s clearly a Top 10 prospect, perhaps a Top 5. The big caveat is that he’s played half his games this year in Las Vegas, a hitter’s paradise, where he’s slugged 50 points more than he has on the road. He’s nearly ready and while fantasy owners and Mets fans need to temper their expectations upon his callup, long-term he has the potential to hit 12 to 15 home runs, steal 25 bags while maintaining a high on-base percentage.
Arrival Date: June of 2017
Rhys Hoskins (PHI, 1B)
I had a chance to check-in on Rhys Hoskins earlier this spring and he looked good. Well, he’s still a big boy but he’s showing an improved approach at the plate while not sacrificing any of his power. To-date, he’s hit 13 home runs while slugging .643. His game should translate to the major league stage with a chance to hit 25 to 30 home runs annually with a .230 to .240 batting average and an acceptable on-base percentage. While he’s always added a stolen base here or there, I’m not sure the Phillies will let him experiment on the base paths.
Arrival Date: Second half of 2017
Scott Kingery (PHI, 2B)
I’ve seen Scott Kingery a lot of the past two years and always thought he would be a nice player who had the skills to get full-time at-bats at the highest level. After reportedly putting on 15 pounds of muscle in the off season, he’s taken his game to the next level. As of the end of May, he’s leading the minor leagues in home runs and OPS while continuing to control the strike zone. The best news is that he’s hitting with power both at home and away. Why? Reading is a great hitters park, favoring right-handed power.
Arrival Date: Possible September callup. Most likely 2018
Jake Gatewood (MIL, 1B)
Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2014 draft, Jake Gatewood’s calling card has always been his 70-grade raw power. The worry…would he hit enough to tap into it? During his three years in the minor leagues, he did little to dispel that fear. He struck out at an alarming rate and demonstrated an extremely aggressive approach. After Lasik eye surgery over the winter, he’s clearly seeing the ball better and has pushed his walk rate to 11% while cutting his strikeout rate to 27%. If you’re thinking that 27% is still not good, you’re correct, but it’s showing progress. If you add it all up, Gatewood could hit 30 home runs with a low batting average but with a passable on-base percentage. Translation: a Khris Davis type of potential.
Arrival Date: 2019-20
Marcus Wilson (ARI, OF)
What, a Diamondback makes the list? Marcus Wilson was drafted in the supplemental second round of the 2014 Draft as an athlete that the Diamondbacks hope would turn into a baseball player. He’s always had great bat speed but the swing could get long and he would rollover too much resulting in lots of ground outs. That started to change this year. In 36 games in Low-A, he’s posted a .988 OPS with seven home runs including doubling the number of flyballs he’s hit. He’s also controlling the strike zone better, posting a 21% strikeout rate to go alongside a 14% walk rate.
Arrival Date: 2019-20
Taylor Trammell (OF)
Going into the 2017 season, people would ask me which bat did I think could make a big statement this year. My answer was Taylor Trammell. He’s a tooled up player that picked baseball over football and was accepted into Georgia Tech. Translation: he’s athletic and smart.
The question was could he hit? He continues to show impressive strike zone awareness, improving on his walk rate to the tune of 12.4%. While the swing can get long, he’s posting a reasonable 23.7% strikeout rate. As he focuses more on the game, I expect his strikeout rate to improve and the countables to follow. He’s a guy to bet-on to be a Top 50 prospect by 2019.
Arrival Date: 2020
Tyler Mahle (CIN, RHP)
Tyler Mahle followed up a nice season in 2016 with an even better one this year. In repeating Double-A, he’s pitched to a 1.72 ERA by striking out a batter an inning and walking less than two per nine. Additionally, on April 28th, he pitched a perfect game, striking out eight while only throwing 88 pitches. While he’s not a flame thrower, he can pump his fastball up to 96 MPH, but generally sits 92 to 94.
I fully expect the Reds to promote Mahle to Triple-A after the short-seasons leagues begin with a chance to see the major leagues late in the second half.
Arrival Date: September call-up or 2018
Walker Buehler (LAD, RHP)
Nobody has impressed me more in my travels this year than Walker Buehler. The kid is really good. I had him hitting 98 on my guy multiple time with a nice 90 MPH slider and with an equally impressive curve ball. Even his change-up shows promise. He’s not a big guy though and that does give me some pause. Can he handle the rigors of pitching 200 innings year-after-year?
The Dodgers have handled him with kid-gloves after his 2015 Tommy John Surgery but the handcuffs should be fully off by next season where he could easily see the major leagues. How much do I like him? He’ll go from unranked to a solid Top 50 prospect, maybe even a Top 25 prospect by the end of the year.
Arrival Date: Second half of 2018
Mitch White (LAD, RHP)
I heard a lot of whispers about Mitch White during spring training and was anxious to see him. I got my wish on April 18th in Lancaster California. Unfortunately, he lost his control and didn’t make it to the third inning. However, he showed a lively 92 to 94 MPH fastball and a nasty 88 MPH cutter. The curve ball showed nice shape but he couldn’t throw it for strikes. The change-up was also not working. However, he showed me enough that he’ll make my Top 100 list going into next season. He’s got the size and stuff to eventually be a number two starter at the highest level.
Arrival Date: 2019
Beau Burrows (DET, RHP)
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Beau Burrows as the secondary stuff wasn’t missing enough bats. That seems to be changing as his strikeout rate in the early going has spiked to 9.75 per nine in 10 starts. He’s always had impeccable control but if he’s now missing bats, watch out. We could have the makings of a number three or even a number two starter.
Arrival Date: 2019
Tony Santillan (CIN, RHP)
The Cincinnati Reds continue to sign high upside arms in hopes that one will emerge as a top of the rotation starter. They thought they had that with Robert Stephenson but the control has never materialized. Amir Garrett is showing some intriguing skills though and further away, Tony Santillan might be better than all of them. He has an 80-grade fastball, improving secondary pitches and is finally throwing strikes.
After toiling in the minor leagues for three years, the Reds should finally start to accelerate his path to the big leagues.
Arrival Date: 2019
Jordan Humphreys (NYM, RHP)
I still can’t believe the Mets have the worse ERA in the league. With everyone that they have developed and continue to develop, it’s mind-boggling. It hasn’t deterred their investment in young arms though, with Justin Dunn and Thomas Szapucki already well known in most prospect circles. Another arm is starting to make noise – Jordan Humphreys. He doesn’t have close to the stuff of Syndergaard or deGrom, but don’t tell that to Sally League hitters. In eight starts, he’s striking out nearly 12 per nine while walking a paltry 1.22 per nine. If it all comes together, he could develop into a mid-rotation starter.
Arrival Date: 2019-20