Now that Air Yordan is promoted, the next impact player in Triple-A is none other than his teammate, Kyle Tucker. When will he get promoted? I have no idea, but he’s hot and could help now.
Next week, short season ball should be in full swing, so look for some really young players making our list.
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1. Kyle Tucker (Hou, OF, Triple-A)
Now that Air Yordan is in Houston, the drumbeat should start for Kyle Tucker. In fact, you can argue that Tucker was even hotter than Alvarez. In June, he’s hit .308 and slugged a crazy .769 with five home runs and two stolen bases. Even with the injuries in Houston, he’s blocked and once their big guns start to return, well, the path is unclear. In Dynasty Leagues, you invest in skills and let the rest take care of itself. For re-draft leagues this year, the calculus for a promotion isn’t clear.
2. Nick Madrigal (CHW, 2B, Double-A)
After a ho-hum start to the season, Nick Madrigal is starting to do what he does best. Hit and steal bases. After his promotion to Double-A, the diminutive second baseman has hit .600 in his first five games with five stolen bases. Oh yeah, he’s yet to strikeout. He’s a unique hitter that I still have questions about because he lacks power, but he could hit .300 with 30 plus stolen bases.
3. Evan White (Sea, 1B, Double-A)
Drafted in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Evan White started the season in Double-A and has played extremely well. He has demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate posting a .299/.374 average in 40 games while also slugging .455. The power has always been the question mark, but his hand and wrist strength are allowing him to generate a ton of bat speed which is resulting in a lot of hard-hit balls. So far, only six of them have been hit for home runs, but if you believe in the launch angle revolution, he’s a perfect candidate for that.
Once he adds loft, I think the home runs jump to 20 plus and with a juiced ball, 25 should be in range. If you add the ability to hit for average with a high on-base percentage with more speed than you think, he has a chance to be a Top 10 first baseman in the game. His foot speed is not just a casual mention, he’s an above-average runner, if not a tick more. He’s never run much, but the skill is there.
White should see Triple-A at some point in the second half with a chance to see the Major Leagues in 2020. Edwin Encarnacion will not be in Seattle in 2020 and might not be there much after July 1st, so the door is wide open for White.
4. Mario Feliciano (Mil, C, High-A)
After batting only .205 in a half season in the Carolina League in 2018, the Brewers had Mario Feliciano repeat the level. Things have gone much better for the 20-year-old backstop as he’s posted a .281/.333/.539 with 14 home runs. His 14 home runs lead the league and in fact, he’s lapped the league as the next highest total is seven.
With the power emerging, it’s time to put Feliciano on Dynasty League radars. He’s not yet in the bullseye as he’s not controlling the strike zone very well. In 58 games, he’s posted a 31% strikeout rate with a 6% walk rate. His .281 average is propped up by an unstainable .356 BABIP. As a backstop, Feliciano is a solid defender with a plus arm that pitchers like to throw to.
I would expect a promotion to Double-A to occur in the second half and I would furthermore expect him to struggle as he did upon his promotion to High-A. If he can control the strike zone better, the ceiling is Top 10 catcher in the game.
5. Keston Hiura (Mil, 2B, Triple-A)
Travis Shaw returned from the IL and Keston Hiura after slashing .281/.333/.531 in 17 games in the Big Leagues was sent packing to Triple-A. He didn’t sulk and has pounded the ball since being sent down, although a four-game series in Las Vegas surely helped. I fully expect him back in Milwaukee if not by the end of the month, surely, by the end of July.
6. Gavin Sheets (CHW, 1B, Double-A)
Drafted in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the White Sox, Gavin Sheets, son of former big leaguer Larry Sheets has shown solid on-base skills but has demonstrated very little power. As a 6-foot-4, 230 pounds first baseman, that has made very little sense.
The White Sox assigned him to Double-A to begin the 2019 season and he got off to a very slow start. As the season has progressed, he has picked things up, hitting .265 in May and now .343 in June. He’s also showing more power in June as he’s slugged .543 with two home runs. While he has plenty of strength, the swing is pretty level. For now, that translates into more doubles-power than over-the-fence power. Similar to his father, he’s a 30-grade runner, so speed will not be part of the equation.
7. Mike Siani (Cin, OF, High-A)
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, despite his current low batting average, I think he will hit. Of course, his plus speed and his ability to steal bases in bunches will be his best asset.
He’s really been showing off the speed this month. In nine games, he’s already stolen nine bases and is batting .382 with a .475 OBP.
8. Kyle Lewis (Sea, OF, Double-A)
Kyle Lewis was taken 11th overall by the Mariners in the 2016 MLB Draft as a classic right-handed power hitter. Shortly after being drafted, he tore his ACL and has just never lived up to the potential he showed in college.
Part of the problem has been staying on the field. That has not been a problem in 2019 and we are starting to get a better handle on the potential. Unfortunately, it’s not been great. He really struggled in April and May hitting just .225 with three home runs and a disappointing 33% strikeout rate. He was getting his walks though. Things have turned around in June. In seven games, he’s only struck out five times with a .444 batting average. Is this a new baseline or simply a small sample size. I’m not sure, but he turns 24 next month so, let’s hope it’s a new baseline.
9. Luis Barrera (Oak, OF, Double-A)
Luis Barrera has a little power and a little speed and has been red hot in Double-A. In nine games in June, he’s hitting .436 with three home runs and three stolen bases. He’s also a very good outfielder and while the skills project to be more a fourth outfielder, if he continues to hit, the upside could go up.
10. Blaze Alexander (Ari, SS, Low-A)
Drafted in the 11th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, surprisingly, Blaze Alexander made our Arizona Top 15 list. We were betting on his bat speed and his ability to control the strike zone to drive his value. Well, so far, he hasn’t shown much power and his 24% strikeout rate leaves a lot to be desired.
In June, he woke up. In a brief six games, he’s hit .444 with a home run and two stolen bases. He’s making great hard contact and controlling the strike zone better. I still like the swing and believe he will eventually hit consistently. Furthermore, I think there is still power in the bat and he runs well, so a ceiling of a .270 hitting with 15 to 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases could be in the cards.
1. Mitch Keller (Pit, RHP, Triple-A)
Mitch Keller made his major league debut on May 27th and wishes he would have had an opener to pitch the first inning. He gave up six earned runs, including a grand slam to Jose Iglesias. After that, he pitched three scoreless innings, striking out seven. I’m betting on the last three innings and not the first. Since returning to Triple-A, he’s been just fine including throwing five shutout innings last week where he struck out 13 of the 19 batters he faced.
2. Tanner Houck (Bos, RHP, Double-A)
Drafted in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Red Sox had Tanner Houck skip over Low-A to begin the 2018 season in the Florida State League and the results were uneven. While he struck out almost a batter an inning, he also walked 4.5 per nine and that led to an ugly 4.24 ERA. The Red Sox were pleased with his progress and moved him to Double-A to begin the 2019 season. While the ERA has nearly been identical, the walks are way down and the strikeout rate is up.
The control is the key as Houck delivery isn’t great as he pitches from lower three-quarters. While this delivery adds deception, it also increases the injury risk for pitchers who throw at the angle. Plus, glove-side bats get a longer look at what he is throwing.
That said, over his last two outings, he’s been nearly unhittable. Given up two earned runs while striking out 18 and only walking three. There’s reliever risk for sure given his delivery and lack of a quality change-up, but if he can remain a starter, the stuff is good enough to give him a ceiling of a number three starter.
3. Trevor Rogers (Mil, LHP, High-A)
I’ve owned Trevor Rogers in the past on Dynasty Leagues but got frustrated because, well, I get impatient. Of course, a 5.82 ERA in 2018 gave me tremendous pause. When you couple that with a guy who just has not been able to stay healthy, you bail…well, better said…I bailed.
This season, he’s showing good swing and miss stuff in the Florida State League with much-improved control. The stuff still looks solid with a fastball that can scrape the mid-90s and both a slider and change-up that show promise.
It’s likely to come down to health. I think Rogers has good enough stuff to be a big leaguer with a good chance to stay a starter. However, if he has to move to a bullpen role, the stuff still should play.
4. Tarik Skubal (Det, LHP, High-A)
One of the breakout pitchers of 2019 has been Tarik Skubal. It’s not like he went all “Casey Mize” on us, but instead, it’s been solid, in an understated way. In 11 starts in High-A, he’s pitched to a 3.08 ERA with 11 strikeouts per nine while walking just over two per nine. While it’s a shoulda-coulda thing, if you take out his two bad outings, he might just give Casey Mize a run for his money.
The stuff is good currently and getting better. It starts with a fastball that sits 92 MPH to 93 MPH, scraping 96. While the velocity is plenty good, especially from the left side, the offering isn’t an explosive pitch. He can command it though, which sets up his slider that is showing nice tilt and boring action – it’s a tough pitch on lefties. His change-up is also showing promise. But it’s the control that is allowing all of his pitches to play-up and this is what gives me hope that he can reach his ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.
5. Rico Garcia (Col, RHP, Double-A)
I have yet to scout Rico Garcia live and have only seen his stat line in passing. While the stats look great and I know he has a solid fastball, he makes our list because he should have been part of a shared no-hitter last week. He started the game against Trenton and went six strong innings of no-hit ball. He then turned it over to the bullpen and they did their job until the ninth inning. Leading off the ninth, Matt Lipka of the Thunder decided to lay down a bunt, which he did successfully blowing the no-hitter. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this, but for me…it’s weak. Come on, break up the no-hitter with a clean hit.
On Garcia, there could be something there. Candidly, I need to do some more research.