We are deep into the season and the creme is rising to the top. Unfortunately, Vlad Jr. is still hurting but another top prospect, Kyle Tucker is raking. I still worry about the hitch in his swing but the results speak for themselves. A couple of players in rookie ball make their debut on this list with some crazy stolen base totals. For Dynasty League owners, be careful with adding too many of these teenagers as most of them will break your heart.
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Brandon Lowe (2B, TB, Triple-A) – When we wrote about Brandon Lowe (Ray’s #7 Prospect) during the pre-season, we comp’d him to Logan Forsythe and he was one of the reasons the Rays felt comfortable moving Forsythe to the Dodgers. The trade, unfortunately, didn’t work out for either team, but Lowe, well, he continues to develop. In fact, over the past nine games, he’s hit seven home runs. Now, he doesn’t have that type of power but he still should be able to hit 12 to 18 home runs with a solid .270 batting average while adding low double-digit stolen bases. It’s kind of like Logan Forsythe’s 2016 season. That was of course before the wheels fell off after he was traded to the Dodgers.
Kyle Tucker (OF, Hou, Triple-A) – I’ve been torn about Kyle Tucker. He’s done nothing but hit since the Astros drafted him fifth overall in the 2015 draft, posting a career .821 OPS. However, he does have a hitch in his swing that just bugs me. So far, it’s not been a problem and perhaps it never will, but I thought the same thing about Gregory Polanco and consequently, he has not developed into the superstar performer I thought he could become. The Astros have publically said that Tucker is a candidate to be promoted in the second half and after a June where he hit .393 with a .685 SLG, it’s hard to argue he needs more time in the minor leagues.
Rylan Bannon (3B, LAD, High-A) – Rylan Bannon draft report card said: plus defender, ability to control the strike zone with a big question mark around his power. While I know it’s the California League, but 17 home runs in 69 games is still pretty impressive. It does look like he’s exchanged power for contact as his strikeout rate is averaging 24% this year. But, if he can hit 20 to 25 home runs with plus infield defense, he’ll have a chance to be a full-time regular at the highest level.
Mason Martin (1B, Pit, R) – In 44 games in Low-A, Mason Martin really struggled, posting a .644 OPS and a 35% strikeout rate. The Pirates brought him back to the complex in May and reassigned him to Rookie Ball in the Appy League and things have gone much better. In eight games, he’s hit five home runs while posting a 1.300 OPS. If he can cut down his strikeouts, the power will definitely play. The good news is he just turned 19, so he still has a lot of time to develop.
Geraldo Perdomo (2B/SS, Ari, R) – Geraldo Perdomo made his minor league debut two weeks ago in the AZL and in nine games has posted a .863 OPS with nine stolen bases. He doesn’t have a ton of power yet but has the frame and swing mechanics that should allow him to develop at least average power. He has a good feel for hitting and has demonstrated the ability to control the strike zone, at least in a very small sample size.
Jeison Guzman (SS, KC, R) – The Royals spent $1.5 million dollars to sign Jeison Guzman out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He’s been slow to develop, including being moved out of his full-season assignment this year in early May. However, in seven games in the Appy League, he’s shown promise by posting a 1.027 OPS with two home runs and six stolen bases.
Kyle Wright (RHP, Atl, Double-A) – Even with their recent promotions, the Braves are still stacked in the minor leagues, particularly with pitching. Kyle Wright, who I believed was the most big league ready pitcher to come out of the 2017 draft has had an inconsistent year in Double-A. He’s shown good swing and miss stuff but has also walked nearly four per nine. Over his last two outings though he has really upped the ante. In 12.2 innings, he’s struck out 19 while walking only three. It’s the profile of at least a solid number three pitcher with the chance to be more.
Lewis Thorpe (LHP, Min, Double-A) – It’s been a long way back from Tommy John surgery for the Aussie, but Lewis Thorpe is starting to develop into the pitcher the Twins hoped when they signed him in 2012. While he’s sporting a 4.06 ERA, he has struck out over 11 per nine while walking less than three per nine through the end of June. This includes back-to-back games this week against Biloxi where he struck out 19 while walking two in 12.2 innings. At 6-foot-1, he’ll likely always be homer prone but the stuff should play quite well at the highest level.
Mitch Keller (RHP, Pit, Double-A) – Mitch Keller is one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues and nobody is talking about him. He finished his stay in Double-A last week with a one-hitter over eight innings where he struck out six while walking two. He has really good stuff but this year, it hasn’t resulted in a ton of strikeouts. The reason is the Pirates are having him work on his change-up and fastball command which from just seeing him a couple of weeks ago, is going quite well. But he’s a Pirate, so unless he signs a team-friendly deal, don’t expect to see him on the big league roster until the second half of 2019.
Jordan Yamamoto (RHP, Mia, High-A) – Jordan Yamamoto was the least famous of the four players that the Marlins received back in the Christian Yelich trade over the winter. After starting the season on the DL, Yamamoto has pitched very well. In five starts in June, he’s posted a 1.21 ERA with 30 strikeouts and six walks. He doesn’t have premium stuff and at 6-feet, he doesn’t have the size you like to see in a starting pitcher, but his secondary pitches can miss bats and let’s face it, he’s one of the better pitching prospects in a very poor Marlins system.
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