The end of Week 3 of the minor league season brings the debut of Vlad Jr. Finally, the Blue Jay’s fans get to watch their great hope. I don’t think he will disappoint as the hit-tool is too good. The question on his immediate power might be getting answered as it’s in the ball. With home runs up 35% in the Triple-A after the league decided to switch to the Major League ball, it’s hard to deny that there is magic, or perhaps something else in the ball.
Yordan Alvarez agrees as he’s already hit 10 home runs to lead the minor leagues with several players right on his heels. Alvarez leads our list after have another terrific week for Round Rock. While I don’t see a path for him in Houston, he’s turning into a top prospect and one that needs to be monitored in all re-draft leagues.
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Yordan Alvarez (Hou, OF, Triple-A)
The introduction of the juiced-up MLB baseball top Triple-A is working for Yordan Alvarez as he now leads the minor leagues with 10. He’s also showing an ability to control the strike zone with 13 strikeouts and 12 walks. He continues to be blocked, several-deep in the outfield and at first base, but could have moved in front of Kyle Tucker, at least short-term on the depth chart. One concern. The offensive progression, defensive profile, and athleticism do remind me eerily of A.J. Reed in 2015 and 16. Just saying…
Will Benson (CLE, OF, Low-A)
Last Thursday, Will Benson hit four home runs in one game which gives him an automatic ticket to our list. While four home runs are an outlier, the tools have always been there. His problem to-date has been his ability to make consistent contact. That hasn’t changed this year as he’s currently striking out 40% of the time. But, if he solves that, he has an intriguing power/speed profile.
Josh Lowe (TB, 1B, Double-A)
While Brandon Lowe rakes in the big leagues, Josh Lowe (no relationship) is starting to show improved power. So far this season, he’s hit four bombs in Double-A with a 19-15 strikeout-to-walk rate. He’s always been hit overpower but if the power is starting to emerge, the ceiling is a 20 to 25 home runs with a .270/.350 average at first base.
Ty France (SD, Infielder, Triple-A)
Ty France hot start has just earned him a promotion to the big leagues. He’s always shown good contact and spurts of power. If he can put it all together, there is the making of a full-time regular or more likely a super-utility player. In fact, he’s played first, second and third so far this year in Triple-A.
Jake Rogers (Det, C, Double-A)
Drafted in the third round by the Houston Astros, Jake Rogers has posted a .940 OPS in 12 games in Double-A. He’s walking more than he’s striking out while slugging .500. He’s a strong defender behind the plate and if the offensive improvement is a true step-up, he could be the future catcher for the Tigers in 2020/2021.
Alec Bohm (Phi, 3B, Low-A)
Alec Bohm got off to a terrible start to his professional career last season. However, the Phillies drafted him third overall for a reason and this year, they must be feeling better. He’s slashing .343/.425/.522 in his first 19 games with a couple of home runs and three stolen bases. He’s also walking nearly as much as he’s struck out.
Monte Harrison (Mia, OF, Triple-A)
Monte Harrison is one of the most tooled up players in all of baseball. He’s a premium athlete who’s a plus runner with great bat speed. The problem has been his ability to make consistent contact, or maybe just contact at all. He’s still striking out 28% of the time, but unlike Lewis Brinson (the player he was traded with for Christian Yelich), he actually can take a walk. You would have to think the leash with Brinson is getting short and at some point, in 2019, the Marlins might decide to switch horses. Will Harrison be any better? Probably not, but if you believe that tools define the players, then Harrison is your guy.
Tyler Freeman (Cle, SS, Low-A)
I drafted Tyler Freeman in several Dynasty Leagues this Spring but wound up cutting him because I just didn’t have any room. He’s off to a strong start this year in High-A with only four strikeouts in his first 17 games while walking nine times. He’s got good speed and has already stolen seven bases. I’ll be checking my free agent pool to see if he’s still available and suggest you do the same.
Ryan Mountcastle (Bal, 3B, Triple-A)
At some point, the Orioles will need to move on from Chris Davis as their full-time first baseman and when they do, Ryan Mountcastle should get his chance. He’s off to a strong start in Triple-A posting a .855 OPS with four home runs. He’s had a spike in strikeouts so far this season, but he’s always shown good contact prior to that.
Oscar Mercado (Cle, OF, Triple-A)
We continue to beat the drum for Oscar Mercado but so far, the Indians are not listening. He’s now hitting .354 with seven stolen bases and just hit his first home run. Just for the record: Greg Allen is hitting .118, Jake Bauers is hitting .211 and Tyler Naquin is sporting a .226 average. It’s time!
Mitch Keller (PIT, RHP, Triple-A)
Once Mitch Keller was promoted to Triple-A last season, his control took a step backward. In fact, this season, he’s walked 13 in 20 innings. However, on Monday he posted an impressive pitching line: 5 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, and 8 strikeouts. Yes, there were three walks but call me a Keller apologist, but I just don’t see this being a long-term issue. His delivery is simple and smooth and he’s athletic enough to repeat his delivery consistently. I’m still bullish and believe we will see him in Pittsburgh later this year.
Deivi Garcia (NYY, RHP, High-A)
Five-foot-nine pitchers usually don’t make it as a starter. Heck, 5-foot-9 pitcher usually don’t make it a reliever. But, when you have the kind of stuff the Deivi Garcia has, you begin to wonder if he will be an outlier. In 17.2 innings, he’s struck out 33 while posting a 3.06 as a 19-year-old in High-A. I don’t see him making the majors as a starter but the arm is electric and he should be considered in most Dynasty League formats at this point.
Bryan Abreu (Hou, RHP, High-A)
The Astros seem to have found the pitching tree that produces athletic hard-throwing kids. Bryan Abreu was signed out of the Dominican in 2013 as a thin 6-foot pitcher who topped out in upper 80’s with his fastball. Since then, he’s filled out and is now hitting 97 on the radar gun with a hammer curveball. Given the depth of the Astros, he might be fast-tracked as a reliever and could even help this year, but the stuff says he could be a starter long-term.
Lewis Thorpe (Min, LHP, Triple-A)
Australian Lewis Thorpe got off to a rough start with two awful starts to begin the season. However, since then, he’s been great and was particularly impressive in his last outing where he struck out 12 in eight innings of shutout ball. His upside is a number four pitcher but he’s a lefty so he could carve out a long career in the big leagues.
Anthony Kay (NYM, LHP, Double-A)
Drafted in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Anthony Kay has gotten off to a strong start in Double-A. In four starts, he’s posted a 1.89 ERA with 22 strikeouts and nine walks. He has a plus fastball and hammer curve but at 6-feet, could be prone to home runs. He’s got mid-rotation potential, but with improved control, could be even more.