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Week 16 Hot Prospects

HOT PROSPECTS 1

Hitters

1. Gavin Lux (LAD, SS, Triple-A)

The Dodgers have hoarded their elite prospects over the past few years and the plan has worked out. Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger both won the Rookie of the Year, Walker Buehler came in third in the voting in 2018 and while Alex Verdugo will likely not place in the voting this year, he’s on track to hit .300 with 20 home runs. All four are core players for the Dodgers with multiple All-star appearances in their future.

Next in line for the Dodgers is Gavin Lux. After slashing .311/.372/.515 in 65 games in Double-A, the team had seen enough and promoted him to the crazy hitting environment of the PCL. In 14 games, he’s slashed .500/.554/1.000 with six home runs. In case you’re wondering, that’s pretty good. He can hit with plus power and is an above-average runner. A .280/.360/.460 slash line in the Major Leagues with 20 plus home runs and 10-15 plus stolen bases is not out of the question. Plus, there could be more in the tank for home runs.

While he looks nearly ready, the question is when he will get the call. The problem is he’s blocked at short but his arm strength points more to him being at second long-term. However, Max Muncy is been getting a lot of time there. Does Muncy move to first full-time, putting Bellinger in the outfield full-time? Is that the best defensive configuration for the Dodgers? There are lots of questions and injuries will likely play a role.

For fantasy owners, don’t worry too much about where Lux will play. It’s going to happen and when it does, it’s going to be very good.

2. CJ Abrams (SD, SS, Rookie)

Selecting in the six-hole of the 2019 MLB Draft, the Padres got one of the most exciting players in CJ Abrams. From a fantasy standpoint, he might be the most intriguing.

First, Abrams is an 80-grade runner with good instincts on the basepaths. He also shows his speed in the outfield and while his routes could use some work, his speed allows him to make up for some of the mistakes he’s making. He has good bat speed, but his swing is more geared for contact and lacks loft. As he matures, he’ll get stronger and should naturally add some loft to his swing. While nobody will mistake him ever for a power hitter, he should have enough pop downstream to hit plenty of doubles and the occasional home run.

To begin his career, he’s given the Padres everything they would have hoped. In 22 games, he’s hitting .420 with 13 stolen bases out of 16 attempts. He’s even popped two home runs. Most impressively, he’s shown a very good approach and the ability to make contact (8.8% K/9) and take a walk (7.2% BB/9)

3. Aaron Bracho (Cle, SS, Rookie)

The Indians had a strong international class in 2017 where they added several athletic players with high upside. While George Valera has gotten most of the press, their biggest sign in term of dollar amount was Aaron Bracho. Injured in 2018 with a broken arm, Bracho has made up for the lost time in 2019. In 21 games in the AZL, he’s slashed .280/.406/.653 walking more than he’s struck out. He’s also hit six home runs while stealing four bases.

Bracho has exciting tools with plus bat speed that should translate into at least above-average future power. He’s a good runner but is already 175 pounds and as he fills out, will likely a step. He’s a switch hitter and is already demonstrating an ability to control the strike zone. If it all comes together, he has a chance to be a regular at the highest level at either shortstop or second base.

4. Calvin Mitchell (Pit, OF, High-A)

Cal Mitchell was a sexy pickup last year in Dynasty Leagues as posted a nice .280/.344/.427 slash line in 119 games in the Sally League. He showed good future power potential with a little bit of speed. What he needed to focus on was his approach at the plate as he tended to get overly aggressive and expand the strike zone. This year, that has happened.

In 88 games in High-A, he has posted a 29% strikeout rate and is only walking 5.6% of the time. He has shown good power, particularly for the Florida State League with 14 home runs and a .186 ISO. In his past five games, he’s 8 for 19 with three home runs.

At 20, Mitchell was one of the youngest players in the FSL in 2019 and therefore, there is still time for him to work on his approach. He’s athletic and from all accounts has good makeup so I’m sticking with my ceiling of a Top 45 outfielder in fantasy.

5. Trent Grisham (Mil, OF, Triple-A)

Trent Grisham was selected in the first round in 2015 with the hope that he would be a top of the order bat who based on his ability to hit, would move quickly through the minor leagues. Four years later, the 37 bases he stole in Low-A is a distant memory and candidly, he’s never really hit (.245 lifetime batting average). In 2019, Grisham appears to be transforming himself showing an improved approach at the plate with more power.

In 63 games in Double-A, he hit 13 home runs and walked nearly as much as he struck out and after his promotion to Triple-A, he’s already hit nine home runs in 23 games while continuing to show an improved approach. Also, he still is a good runner, so a 20-20 performer is still not out of the question.

The development path can be long and circuitous as not everyone hits immediately and takes off. The best news is that Grisham only turns 23 in November and given his slow start to his career, is likely sitting on a lot of waiver wires. I think he’s worth an add as I think there is something there.

6. Alec Bohm (Phi, 3B, Double-A)

After a slow start to his career in 2018, Alec Bohm has been flying through the minor leagues in 2019. He started off in Low-A and after 21 games and batting .368 with a .592 SLG, he was promoted to High-A. He was there for six weeks and again showed that he was too advanced for the league as he slashed .329/.393/.497.

He’s finishing up the season in Double-A and is enjoying playing in the hitter-friendly environment of Reading. In 22 games, he’s slashing .270/.323/.517. Over the past week, he’s 8 for 27 with two home runs.

Bohm has an advanced approach at the plate showing the ability to make solid contact (16% K/9 in 2019) with nearly a 10% walk rate. While he’s not showing a lot of over-the-fence power yet, at 6-foot-5, he’s got the size and bat speed to eventually hit for at plus power (25+ home runs). While the Phillies still have him primarily playing at third, he has played a little at first as well. Given his size, I doubt he stays at third long-term and he’s blocked at first. I do think there is enough athleticism for him to move to the outfield and that could eventually be where he winds up. Regardless, he could be a solid fantasy performer with 25 plus home runs power who can post a .270/.360 average.

7. Victor Victor Mesa (Mia, OF, High-A)

Victor Victor Mesa and his brother Victor Mesa Jr. were the center of the baseball universe on October 20th, 2018 when the Miami Marlins signed Victor Victor to a $5.25 million dollar signing bonus and his brother to a million-dollar bonus. The Dynasty League community was excited and we at prospect361 were excited, particularly at the potential of Victor Victor. Why not…in 2017 while playing for La Habana in Cuba, he hit .354 with seven home runs and 40 stolen bases in only 70 games. Plus, he came from a famous baseball family.

The Marlins assigned the 22-year-old to the Florida State League and he showed a lot of understandable rust. In April he hit.226, in May he hit .220 and if it weren’t for a 3 for 4 game on June 30th, he would have hit .223 in June. Instead, he managed to post a .254 batting average. Plus, he showed no power and rarely walked. The two things he did well was play the outfield and make contact (12% strikeout rate).

In July, the rust started to come off and he’s hit .319 with a .342 OBP but still is showing no power (.362 SLG). Is this who Victor Victor is? A soft-contact player with a great glove who can steal bases. If so, that’s the profile of a fourth outfielder.

At this point, I’m not willing to conclude anything, although I’ve received reports of his weak contact. However, he’s still a plus runner and I’ve been told he does have good bat speed. At worse, he’s a fourth outfielder for the Marlins, but given the investment they made, I think they will give him every opportunity to be more.

8. Joey Bart (SF, C, High-A)

With all the talk of Adley Rutschman, it’s easy to forget that Joey Bart was the top catcher in the 2018 MLB Draft where the Giants drafted him with the second overall pick. He’s had a solid year in the California League playing in one of the few pitcher-friendly ballparks in the League, San Jose. In 42 games, he’s slashed .271/.319/.500 with nine home runs. He did miss six weeks from mid-April through May recovering from a broken hand that he suffered after getting hit by an errant fastball from Mitchell Jordan on April 15th. Once Bart returned and knocked the rust off, he’s been solid with a .286 batting average in June with three home runs.

Bart projects to be a Top 10 major league catcher with excellent defensive chops and good, but not great offensive upside. He has good size and bat speed and projects to hit 20 plus home runs at the highest level. He is aggressive at the plate and will expand the strike zone, so there will likely be pressure on both his batting average and on-base percentages.

While it’s getting late in the season, a promotion to Double-A to finish the season still could be in the cards. That should set him to spend most of his 2020 in Double-A before a promotion in 2021 to the big leagues.

9. Ryan Vilade (Col, SS, High-A)

I bet big, well, kind of big on Ryan Vilade in 2018 and added him to several my Dynasty Leagues. While it was ok in 2018, I expected to see more of an offensively then what he showed but was encouraged by his contact, especially as the season progressed. Lancaster was the next test and while Asheville is an extreme hitters-environment, Lancaster is even better. After 92 games, it’s been just about the same year with slightly more power (.386 SLG vs. .432). Is the 50-point difference a factor of Lancaster and the California League or a skill increase? I’m guessing the former.

We now have two years of data and scouting and the profile for Vilade is becoming clear. He’s a high contact player who can control the strike zone, runs well but has below-average power. That puts him on a path of somewhere between a utility player and a full-time regular.

Over the past week, he’s been red hot going 10 for 27.

10. Leonel Valera (LAD, SS, Low-A)

I honestly don’t know a lot about Leonel Valera as I’ve never seen him play. Signed out of Venezuela in 2015, he finally got a full-season assignment in Great Lakes of the Midwest League. While it’s just been ok with a .616 OPS and a sub-.300 SLG, he has stolen 10 bags in the last 10 days. He only has 20 for the season, but since owners are always looking for stolen bases, I thought Valera was worthy of inclusion.

Pitchers

1. Michael Baumann (Bal, RHP, Double-A)

Taken in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Michael Baumann has been making steady progress through the minor leagues. While he has a good fastball that can touch 97 to 98 MPH, the knock against him has always been that his secondary pitches (slider and change-up) were average-at-best. Most evaluators believed he would wind up in the bullpen and perhaps that 97 would turn into 100 and he could be a weapon, perhaps even in high-leveraged situations.

In 2019, Baumann has been better. His secondary pitches have improved with his change-up flashing plus at times. The result is his now missing more bats and that was evident in 11 starts in High-A where he posted a 12.83 K/9 rate. To begin July, the Orioles promoted him to Double-A where on July 16th he pitched a no-hitter against Harrisburg striking 10 and walking two.

Baumann will make our Baltimore Top 15 prospect list with a chance to be a number four starter. If he can get more out of his slider, he could be more than that.

2. Luis Patino (SD, RHP, High-A)

I did my first cut of our Mid-Season Top 100 list before the Futures Game. After watching the game and seeing Luis Patino dominate his 1.2 innings, I wanted to place him higher than slot 59. In the end, I kept him there and figured…well, he has nowhere to go but up.

In 15 starts in the California League, Patino has pitched extremely well. He’s shown a mid-90s fastball that can scrape higher and a slider and change-up that are improving quickly. His delivery is simple and clean and he’s athletic enough to repeat his delivery. The knock against him, and it’s a big knock is that he’s not a big guy. He stands 6-feet and 190 pounds. Will he be able to handle a starter workload? Will he be homer-prone? I’ve gotten different opinions when I posed these and other similar questions to evaluators. However, everyone has said that the arm is special. We all saw that in his brief outing on that hot evening in July.

While he’s pitched his entire season in High-A, he only turns 20 in October, so there really is no need for the Padres to rush him. Assuming health, he could see the Major Leagues by 2021, with an outside shot at the second half of next season. It’s big stuff and if it all comes together, he has top-of-the-rotation potential.

He makes our Hot Prospect List after two dominating home/away outings against Visalia. In 12.1 innings, he gave up one earned run striking out 16 and walking three.

3. Jonathan Bowlan (KC, RHP, High-A)

The Royals seem to have multiple pitching prospects at every level of the organization. Jonathan Bowlan is a new name to many of you. He was a second-round pick in 2018 and after pitching well in the Midwest League to begin the season, has been dominating in six starts in High-A including pitching a no-hitter on July 15th against the Carolina Mudcats (note: he gave up no hits or walks but the Blue Rocks did commit an error). His stuff points to a back-of-the-rotation arm, but a no-hitter at any level should be celebrated.

4. Kris Bubic (KC, LHP, High-A)

Kris Bubic has been one of the big risers this year and has made our list multiple times. He’s back again after tossing back-to-back impressive outings on July 12th and 17th. In 13 innings, he gave up one run while striking out 21 and walking one. He stumbled a little

5. Thomas Szapucki (NYM, LHP, High-A)

Thomas Szapucki was a hot pickup in Dynasty Leagues a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, he blew out his elbow after only six starts in 2017. He spent the rest of 2017 and all of last season recovering from Tommy John reconstructive surgery.

Fully healthy, he hit the mound in 2019 with the Mets being very careful with his workload. In fact, he didn’t pitch more than two innings in any outing until late June. The plan worked as the results were impressive. In 21.2 innings, he pitched to a 2.02 ERA. He showed good swing and miss stuff, but his control was clearly not all the way back as he walked over four per nine. Next up was High-A and he pitched even better. So far in four starts, he has been dominant pitching to a 2.02 ERA while striking out 19 and walking five.

Szapucki has good stuff and it’s made even better because it’s coming from the left-side. He has a low three-quarters delivery which makes his stuff even that more difficult on left-handed batters. The delivery does present problems as right-handed batters get a longer look. This ultimately could limit his upside. With the Mets history of developing pitchers, I think his upside is a number four starter, perhaps a little more.

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Week 17 Waiver Wire Pick-ups

Waiver Wire2On Hall of Fame weekend, we have listed several players on most waiver wires who could be Hall of Famers…er, well, maybe not that good.

Anyway, we are deep into the season and it’s now are never to make the moves.

 

The entire list can be found here.

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Hot Prospects – Week 15

HOT PROSPECTS 1With our Mid-season Top 100 behind us, we pivot back to doing our weekly Hot Prospects of the week.  This week we have Luis Robert at the top of the list.  I provide a detailed scouting report of my visit to see him in his Triple-A debut.  Sure the ball is enhanced and Charlotte is a great place to hit, but after seeing him, he could be a special ballplayer.

There are nine more hitters and five pitchers for reading enjoyment.

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. Luis Robert (CHW, OF, Triple-A)

In my travels, I kept missing Luis Robert.  I missed him during his brief stay in Kannapolis last year.  He was hurt when I attended the AFL last Fall and it rained on the day I was going to see him in Winston Salem.  Finally, last week, July 11th I set my alarm for the 7:04 start in Charlotte for his Triple-A debut and I was not disappointed.

I lazily compared Robert to Yoan Moncada and while there are some hit-tool comparisons, they are not physically similar.  Moncada looks like a running back, shorter and broader but Robert is built more like a lean wide receiver.  While I didn’t get a chance to time him down to first, he clearly has plus speed and can cover significant ground in the outfield quickly.  The bat speed is impressive with the strength coming from his wrist and forearms.  He hit two home runs that night and it was easy power.  Just a quick swing resulting in extremely hard contact.  The Knights reported the first blast (grand slam) was hit 409 feet with an exit velocity of 110 MPH.  The second shot was hit 428 feet.  Again, with little effort.

The swing is simple and clean and definitely works, but the approach is aggressive.  He’s up there looking to swing the pole and in his 5 at-bats, he saw 11 pitches.  His stat line supports the approach as he is posting a 5.2% walk rate.  Plus, there will be some swing and miss due to his aggressive approach as he will expand the strike zone.  However, the tools are elite and the ceiling could be very special.  How special?  There is 30-30 potential with a chance to hit .260 with a .320 OBP.  Also, through the magic of BABIP and how hard he hits the ball, there will likely be some variance in his batting average which in some years could put his batting average 20 to 30 points higher.

2. Trevor Larnach (Min, OF, High-A)

I was a little light on Trevor Larnach last season as I was concerned about his size and lack of premium athleticism.  I did acknowledge that he had good bat speed but wasn’t sure if he’d hit enough to ever develop the plus in-game power that was lurking.

In 2019, Larmach has started to answer a number of those questions.  First, defensively, he’s a corner outfielder, likely a left-fielder or even given his size, a first baseman.  I do see enough athleticism for him to stay in the field.  Secondly, while the FSL is suppressing his in-game power, the raw power is definitely real and I expect once he moves through the system, the power will develop.  Finally, he’s controlling the strike zone better than I had anticipated.  The strikeout rate is a reasonable 20.5% and he’s also shown an ability to work a walk.  Net-net, I see a solid major league player with a .250/.350 batting average with 25 plus home run pop.  As I said in our mid-season update where I put him at number 79, the ceiling is an everyday Major League, but not a star.

In July, he’s been really hitting the ball with a .366/.435 batting average but the power still has yet to show.  Be patient owners, it’s in there.

3. Kevin Smith (Tor, SS, Double-A)

Kevin Smith was a popular addition for Dynasty League owners in 2018 as he raked in Low and High-A.  While he showed good power and speed, his high BABIP and inability to control the strike zone, particularly in the Florida State League gave me pause.

2019 has not gone as well for the University of Maryland graduate.  His strikeout rate has increased to 31.5% and he’s only posting a 6.4% walk rate.  When you combine that with a low BABIP, the results are not good.  In 72 games in Double-A, he’s hitting .195 with a .253 OBP.  He is still showing some power with 12 home runs, but unless he improves his ability to control the strike zone, he’ll never be able to get to his power as he progresses through the system.

So, it’s not been good…so why is he on your list?  Well, after returning to game action in July, he’s hot.  In four games, he’s hitting .400 with four home runs.  He still struck out four times, but his week highlights both the potential and areas of work.

4. Sheldon Neuse (Oak, 3B, Triple-A)

Sheldon Neuse has enjoyed the move from humid Nashville with normal baseballs to the desert of Las Vegas with the (clears throat), the enhanced baseball.  In 135 games in 2018, he hit five home runs and in 85 games in 2019, he’s already hit 16 with a .315 batting average and a .393 OBP.

The obvious question is who is Sheldon Neuse?  The best news is that Neuse has cut down his strikeout rate significantly.  Several evaluators I spoke with were surprised at how poorly he hit in 2018 when he posted a 32% strikeout rate.  The 22% strikeout rate is more in-line with his approach as is the 10.6% walk rate.  The power is not as he’s more likely average power than plus power.  If you add it all up, the ceiling is a .260/.330 average with 15 to 20 home runs.  The biggest problem is he’s blocked at third.  This could lead to a trade as the A’s look to upgrade other parts of their organization.

5. Cal Raleigh (Sea, C, High-A)

Cal Raleigh continues to make the parks in the California League look small.  In 12 games in July, he’s hit nine home runs while driving in 18.  It’s time for the Mariners to challenge him with a move to Double-A.

6. Mark Vientos (NYM, 3B, High-A)

Mark Vientos was one of the sexy pickups in 2018 for fantasy owners after showing good power and good plate discipline in the Appy League.  However, after he got off to a poor start in Low-A to begin the 2019 season, owners started to flee.  He wasn’t showing any power and only walked 13 times in his first 267 plate appearances.

Once the calendar turned to July, Vientos bat came alive.  In 12 games in July, he’s hitting .381 with three home runs while cutting down his strikeouts and improving his walk rate.  Perhaps there was an injury that he has worked through, or perhaps he was just adjusting to the level.  Regardless, I still believe that Vientos can be regular third baseman at the highest level.  I like the swing, there is loft and I believe he will control the strike zone enough to hit at the highest level.  The upside continues to be a 20 plus home run bat with a chance to hit .260 plus at the Major League level.

7. Kristian Robinson (Ari, OF, Short-Season)

When I compiled my mid-season Top 100, I wanted to include Kristian Robinson but I just could not find a way to include him.  However, given the year he had in 2018 and now in 2019, plus just his crazy tools, I will definitely find a way to include him in our 2020 Top 100 Prospect list.

At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Robinson looks like he just walked out of central casting for ballplayers.  He has plus raw power and is starting to tap into that in the Northwest League.  In 27 games, he’s slugging .557 with five home runs. He’s currently an above-average runner, but as he fills out, the potential of a 20-20 performer will fade.  Once he hits his mid-20’s, he’ll profile more as a power hitting corner outfielder as opposed to a five-tool performer.  While it’s still raw, he does show an understanding of the strike zone.  However, his swing does get long so strikeouts will likely be part of the equation going forward.

8. Yusniel Diaz (Bal, OF, Double-A)

Yusniel Diaz was the big return when the Orioles traded Manny Machado last July.  When he arrived in Bowie, the Orioles Double-A affiliate, things just didn’t click.  He hit a ho-hum .239 with a .403 SLG.  It was more of the same to start the 2019 season as he posted a .225/.312/.338 slash line in the month of April.  He then hit the IL with a hamstring injury and when he returned, he’s looked like a different player.

The bat speed was back and started to hit the ball with more authority.  I had a chance to see the bat speed once again in July and it was as good as was when I saw him two years ago in the California League.  As the old saying goes, the ball just makes a different sound coming off his bat.

I still believe that Diaz ceiling is a Top 45 outfielder in the game with 20 plus home runs and a handful of stolen bases.  Plus, I think he hits.  He makes very good contact and understands the strike zone.  Again, I don’t see a star, but instead, I see a solid major league regular.

9. Taylor Walls (TB, SS, Double-A)

Taylor Walls has really enjoyed his promotion to Double-A.  In 18 games, the speedy shortstop has swiped nine bases in 14 attempts.  Yeah, the ratio is not the greatest, but he has good speed, a little bit of pop and understands the strike zone.  The ceiling is a regular second baseman in the big leagues or more likely a utility performer on a contender.

10. Riley Greene (Det, OF, Short-Season)

Riley Greene was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and has done everything the Tigers would have hoped.  In 15 games to begin his professional career, he’s slashing .361/.451/.541 with a couple of home runs across the GCL and New York Penn League.

Greene has good bat speed and a good understanding of the strike zone that should translate into a 20-plus home run bat with a .250 to .260 batting average at the highest level.  He’ll have to guard against his swing getting long and creating holes, but assuming he can keep his swing compact, the bat should play.  At 18 and 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he’s already a big kid, so long-term I don’t see stolen bases as part of the profile.

If you add it all up, he profiles as a solid Major League corner outfielder with the production level of Mitch Haniger or Max Kepler.

PITCHERS

1. Logan Gilbert (Sea, RHP, High-A)

One of the players that just missed my mid-season Top 100 list was Logan Gilbert.  The 2017 first round pick (pick 14) has been dominant this year.  First in the Sally League where he had little trouble in five starts and then more impressively in the hitter-friendly California League.  In 12 starts there, he’s posted a 1.73 ERA striking out nearly 11 per nine while pounding the strike zone (1.73 BB/9).

Gilbert stands 6-foot-6 with his primary pitch being a two-seamer fastball that has a lot of arm-side run and sink.  It has improved as the year has progressed but generally sits 90 to 94 MPH.  Because of the movement, he gets in combination with his natural plane, lower minor league batters are left befuddled.  He throws two breaking pitches that have a tendency to merge into more of a slurve offering. He needs to develop a better change-up and if not, could be exposed as he moves to Double-A.  All-in-all, he has the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter, possibly more if he can develop his change-up.

Since he’s flying under the radar in most Dynasty Leagues, I would be treating him like a Top 100 prospect and targeting him wherever he is available.

2. Tarik Skubal (Det, LHP, Double-A)

The first time the Altoona Curve faced Tarik Skubal, they were shutout by the lefty.  They got a second look last week and I guess fared better…they scored three times but only one earned run.  He still struck out 11 in five innings and only walked one.  The stuff is solid with a mid-rotation ceiling and he’s obviously moving very quickly.

3. Spencer Howard (Phi, RHP, High-A)

Spencer Howard was a pitcher that I targeted in Dynasty Leagues over the off-season given the reports I received on him.  Unfortunately, his season was plagued with shoulder injury that caused a couple of stints on the Injured List.  However, in July he was finally back and healthy and looks every bit as good as he did in 2018.  In his last two outings in High-A, he pitched 11 innings, giving up one hit while striking out 14 and walking one.

Howard has good size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds that should allow him to handle a starter workload.  The arsenal is impressive with a fastball that he can run up to the upper nineties that usually sits 94 to 96 MPH.  His mid to upper 80’s hard slider is his main strikeout weapon with his change-up being a nice pitch that can keep lefties off balance.

It might come down to health with Howard.  Assuming he’s healthy the size, arsenal and control point to a number two starter.  However, any shoulder injury is serious and Dynasty League owners need to stay on their toes to ensure he remains pitching.

4. Luis Rijo (Min, RHP, Low-A)

Luis Rijo was originally signed by the Yankees in 2015 as a 16-year-old Venezuelan.  As he has matured, his stuff has been ticking up very nicely and now he boasts a solid arsenal.  Now 20 and pitching for the Twins, he has been very effective in the Midwest League.  In his last two starts, he has pitched 13.2 innings giving up two earned runs, striking out 16 and walking two.

5. Justus Sheffield (Sea, RHP, Double-A)

I know it was ugly in Triple-A, but after his demotion to Double-A, Justus Sheffield has returned to his former glory.  In six starts, he’s posted a 1.62 ERA striking out 40 while walking eight.  I haven’t heard whether his velocity has returned, but if it has, it might be time to add him to your fantasy team.

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Week 16 Waiver Wire Pick-ups

Waiver Wire2With the dog days of summer upon us, the waiver wire is starting to get a little thin. However, that call-up or injury promotion can be all that it takes to improve your fantasy team.

Our senior baseball writer, Tim McLeod has been digging to find you the best players for your money in this week’s installment of our Waiver Wire Pickups.

The complete list can be found here.

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2019 Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects (1-50)

2018 top 100Our mid-season Top 50 has been expanded to a Top 100. While there have been many promotions, the kids keep on coming. The list is stacked with high-end prospects that are nearly ready for the show to 16-year-old kids that will be ready before you know it. Let’s face it, the game has gotten younger and players are just not staying in the minor leagues very long.

To make the list, players MUST have less than 50 IP or 130 at-bats in the Major Leagues at the time the list was published.

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.

1. Wander Franco (TB, SS, High-A)

While Wander Franco’s hit-tool might be his greatest asset, he’s got plus power and well above-average speed. While he’s only 18, he’s moving quickly and could see the Majors in 2021.

2. Bo Bichette (Tor, SS, Triple-A)

Bo Bichette has a double-plus hit tool with plus speed and growing power. It’s a recipe for a 20-20 performer at the highest level. I think we see him in the second half.

3. Jo Adell (LAA, OF, Double-A)

He spent the first two months on the IL, but that didn’t matter as he hit the ground running when he returned. There’s plus power, plus speed but with more strikeouts than you will like. I don’t think that will matter much as the total package screams multiple All-Star appearances.

4. MacKenzie Gore (SD, LHP, Double-A)

MacKenzie Gore has great stuff with an athletic delivery that should allow him to move quickly through the minors. In fact, his next start will be in Double-A. The ceiling is a #1 starter.

5. Casey Mize (Det, RHP, Double-A)

If you say that Casey Mize is the best pitcher in the minor leagues, I won’t fight you. Before his shoulder injury, he was shoving it and looks just about ready.

6. Luis Robert (CHW, OF, Triple-A)

Luis Robert might be the most explosive athlete in the minor leagues. He’s destroyed the Carolina League, excelled in Double-A and should make quick work of Triple-A. There will be swing and miss in his game, but if all comes together, he could be a monster performer at the highest level.

7. Keston Hiura (Mil, 2B, Majors)

With only 101 at-bats in the Majors, Keston Hiura still qualifies for our list. He’s a plus hitter with power and speed. You’ve seen what he can already do. I expect more of the same with more power and less speed as his career goes forward.

8. Yordan Alvarez (Hou, DH, Majors)

While Yordan Alvarez is likely a DH long-term, the power and hit-tool suggest an offensive force somewhere between Khris Davis and JD Martinez. Eight does feel a little high for a DH with no speed, but he’s doing it in the Majors and looks good doing it.

9. Brendan McKay (TB, LHP, Majors)

In the end, I think Brendan McKay will be used strictly as a starter, but it should’nt matter as the upside is a number two-starter, perhaps a little more.

10. Kyle Tucker (Hou, OF, Triple-A)

The Astros appear to have lost some confidence in Kyle Tucker, and while I’ve never liked the hitch in his swing, there is plus power and speed in the profile. I think he gets moved at the deadline or over the winter and then we will get a chance to see how good he can be.

11. Gavin Lux (LAD, SS, Triple-A)

Gavin Lux is another Dodger who will compete for Rookie of the year honors. This kid can really play.

12. Forrest Whitley (Hou, RHP, Triple-A)

I saw what I saw in the Fall League with Forrest Whitley – four plus pitches with control. I didn’t love the short delivery, but he has the size and stuff to pitch at the front of the rotation. I am worried about the shoulder issues and even more worried that the Astros are very quiet about it. But, assuming health, he could develop into one of the best pitchers in the league.

13. Alex Kirilloff (Min, OF, Double-A)

It’s just been ok for Alex Kirilloff in Double-A this year. I’m not too worried as he can hit with plus raw power that has yet to show-up in-games. He’s blocked in Minnesota but I think that sorts itself out.

14. Brendan Rodgers (Col, SS, Majors)

I’m beginning to wonder if the Rockies know what to do with Brendan Rodgers? I think there’s a plus hit-tool to go along with plus power in the bat but with Trevor Story and Nolan Arrenado blocking him, that leaves second base for his taking. The problem, Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon are both laying claim. In the end, I think he grabs second, McMahon moves to first and Hampson is the super utility player.

15. Dustin May (LAD, RHP, Triple-A)

I continue to be extremely high on Dustin May. His primary pitch is a hard two-seamer that should make him a ground ball machine and also break a ton of bats in the process. Plus, his secondary pitches will miss plenty of bats. If you believe in spin-rate, which I do, he’s got one of the best fastball spin-rates in all of baseball. It’s one of the reasons his sinker is so nasty. He’ll be the number two to Walker Buehler as soon as 2020.

16. Adley Rutschman (Bal, C, NA)

This past June’s draft was not great, but Adley Rutschman was the best of the class and has a chance to be the best catcher in the Majors one day. He’s got plus power with the ability to hit and the defensive chops to stay behind the plate.

17. Jarred Kelenic (Sea, OF, High-A)

The Mets made a mistake. Trading Jarred Kelenic for Cano and Edwin Diaz is already starting to come back to haunt them. He’s can hit with plus power and a little speed and the makeup to make it all work.

18. Matt Manning (Det, RHP, Double-A)

Casey Mize is the top pitcher in the Detroit system but Matt Manning is not far behind. He’s got the size, stuff and extreme athleticism to make it all work. It’s a number two starter profile with a chance to be more.

19. Joey Bart (SF, C, High-A)

Joey Bart showed off his arm in Sunday’s Futures Game and has the offensive chops to provide plus power. There will be swing and miss in the profile, but the upside is Top five catcher in the game.

20. Bobby Witt Jr. (KC, SS, Rookie)

While Bobby Witt Jr. is already 19, he’s got big-time tools and the makeup and the obvious pedigree to move quickly through the Royals system.

21. Taylor Trammell (Cin, OF, Double-A)

Taylor Trammell is one of my favorite prospects in the game. Not only does he have plus speed, growing power and the ability to get on base, but he’s also just a fun and entertaining player. He will be the future center fielder for the Reds, perhaps as soon as 2020. This should push Nick Senzel back to the dirt.

22. Jesus Luzardo (Oak, LHP, Triple-A)

If you think I’m starting to get worried about Jesus Luzardo’s health track record, you would be right. He’s clearly ready to show his stuff at the highest level, but let’s face, he has yet to show he can stay healthy.

23. Mitch Keller (Pit, RHP, Triple-A)

Mitch Keller has gotten a couple of shots at the apple but has had inconsistent results. While his mechanics are solid, the walks have been too high. I think he solves this problem and becomes a mainstay in the Pirates rotation very soon.

24. Nate Pearson (Tor, RHP, Double-A)

The more I see Nate Pearson, the more I like him. He has a legitimate 80-grade fastball that he can run up to triple-digits. The secondary pitches are still on the come, but it’s a number two starter ceiling.

25. Sixto Sanchez (Mia, RHP, Double-A)

All six-foot pitchers with huge upside get compared to Pedro Martinez. I don’t think Sixto Sanchez is that guy, but it’s premium stuff and he fills up the strike zone. After several bad trades, the Marlins got it right and finally landed their big fish.

26. Carter Kieboom (Was, 2B, Triple-A)

Carter Kieboom can really hit with plus power. There isn’t a ton of speed but as the future third baseman for the Nationals, it should work just fine. I know there is talk that they might re-sign Anthony Rendon, but I don’t see it. Get younger and cheaper and then spend the extra money on pitching.

27. Nick Madrigal (CHW, 2B, Double-A)

I have no idea if this is the right spot for Nick Madrigal. I do know in fantasy, he’s a three-category performer (Runs, SB, and BA); and they just happen to be the toughest categories. But, he has 20-grade power. He’s an intriguing player, to say the least.

28. Cristian Pache (Atl, OF, Double-A)

Cristian Pache is a true five-tool player with his defensive ability leading the way. While that won’t necessarily impress fantasy players, look no further than Jackie Bradley Jr’s ability to stay in the lineup despite hitting .160 in May. There are speed and power in the quiver and I think he could develop into a Top 30 outfielder in fantasy.

29. A.J. Puk (Oak, LHP, Double-A)

A.J. Puk is now a year removed from Tommy John Surgery and while there are some inconsistent outings, the stuff appears fully back. I was too light on him after Oakland drafted him number six overall in 2016, but the stuff and size point to a number two starter ceiling.

30. Michael Kopech (CHW, RHP, Majors)

I’ve yet to hear if Michael Kopech has started throwing yet, but it should be soon. I would guess we’d see him back in Chicago sometime in the second half of next season. Assuming health, the upside is a number one starter.

31. Ian Anderson (Atl, RHP, Double-A)

Ian Anderson received the honor to start the Futures Game for the National League and looked great. He’s athletic with great stuff and pitchabiliy. While the Braves have elite pitching prospects seemingly everywhere, Anderson could emerge as the best of the crop.

32. Royce Lewis (Min, SS, High-A)

Royce Lewis is an engaging and fun player with tremendous skills. Unfortunately, the swing has gotten noisy and needs some work. In fact, he’s regressed since being taken 1:1 in 2017 and consequently has dropped in our rankings. Assuming he can fix the swing, the upside is significant.

33. Jordan Groshans (Tor, SS, Low-A)

Jordan Groshans is one of my big risers on our list. He’s was showing the ability to hit with big power before getting hurt in the Midwest League. Once he’s back, I think he continues to mash and should take over for Vlad Jr. at third in 2021 when it will be time to move Vlad to first.

34. Dylan Cease (CHW, RHP, Majors)

Dylan Cease throws very hard but has yet to show consistent control of his arsenal. I think that will come in time, and when it does, he has a chance to be a solid mid-rotation starter if not more.

35. Alec Bohm (Phi, 3B, Double-A)

After a slow start to his professional career last year, Alec Bohm has had little trouble in 2019. He had one of the better hit tools come out of the draft last June and as he develops power, he should be the answer at third for the Phillies by next season.

36. Andrew Vaughn (CHW, 1B, Low-A)

The White Sox picked high again in the draft and selected Andrew Vaughn as their potential backfill for Jose Abreu at first. Even if they resign Abreu, Vaughn should play first with Abreu moving to DH. It’s big power with an above-average hit tool.

37. Nico Hoerner (CHC, SS, Double-A)

The Cubs are moving Nico Hoerner hard and he’s responding. In fact, if it weren’t for an injury that caused him to miss all of May, he might be in Triple-A by now. The hit-tool is very advanced with average power and speed to complement.

38. Jonathan India (Cin, 3B, High-A)

Jonathan India was taken with the fifth overall pick last June and has played ok in the Florida State League this season, slashing .253/.345./.418. I think there is more in the tank for him and in the end, I still believe he has a chance to be a top 10 fantasy third baseman.

39. DL Hall (Bal, LHP, High-A)

The Orioles might have done a lousy job in developing their pitchers, they were actually quite good at drafting good arms. Fortunately for DL Hall, the changes the Orioles have made to their coaching staff should help him reach his potential. It’s a mid-rotation profile, but from the left side, he could be pitching until his mid-30s.

40. Daniel Lynch (KC, LHP, High-A)

The Royals went heavy with college pitchers in the 2018 and the best of the bunch is Daniel Lynch. The stuff is premium from the left side and he’s moving quickly. Don’t be surprised if you see him in a Royals uniform in the second half of 2020.

41. Matthew Liberatore (TB, LHP, Low-A)

While the journey to the Major is likely to be lengthy for Matthew Liberatore, the stuff from the left side is going to play for a long time. We might not see him until 2022, but the stuff and athleticism give him a ceiling of a number two starter.

42. Luis Urias (SD, 2B, Triple-A)

I think the 17 home runs that Luis Urias has hit so far in Triple-A is unsustainable. I do believe the hit tool is for real. Throw-in 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases annually, and it’s a solid middle infielder profile in fantasy.

43. CJ Abrams (SD, SS, Rookie)

It’s not like the Padres needed more athleticism in their system. But, in the 2019 MLB Draft, they drafted one of the fastest players in CJ Abrams. In 15 games in Rookie ball, he’s already stolen eight bases with a .429 batting average.

44. Dylan Carlson (STL, OF, Double-A)

Dylan Carlson has opened eyes in fantasy circles this year by posting a .875 OPS in Double-A. There is an intriguing blend of power and speed that should play nicely in the outfield for the Cardinals sometime in 2020.

45. Vidal Brujan (TB, 2B, Double-A)

Vidal Brujan carrying tool is the double-plus speed that he showed off quite nicely in 44 games in the Florida State League by stealing 24 bases in 29 chances. He also controls the strike zone very well and should be able to hit for average. The amount of power is the open question but assuming he can add 5 to 10 home runs, he could be Top 10 fantasy second baseman.

46. Evan White (Sea, 1B, Double-A)

Taken in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, we all knew that Evan White could hit, we were just waiting on the power to develop. In 2019, it has. In 57 games in Double-A, he’s slugging .496 with 11 home runs. Throw in the ability to hit and post a high on-base percentage, there’s a lot to like.

47. Marco Luciano (SF, SS, Rookie)

Perhaps I’ve gone off the deep end by ranking Marco Luciano in the Top 50, but he was arguably the top International bat last year and has raked in the early going of his career. There’s plus raw power, good speed and if he finds a semblance of a quality hit-tool, he could be a monster fantasy performer.

48. Justin Dunn (Sea, RHP, Double-A)

Justin Dunn has great stuff but is still learning to put together everything. I think he does and should start to show his stuff in Seattle next season. The ceiling is a number three starter, or perhaps a little more.

49. Keibert Ruiz (LAD, C, Double-A)

While Keibert Ruiz has only hit .260 in 67 games in Double-A this year, he has more walks than strikeouts and is being hampered by a low BABIP. He’s a bat-first catcher with a chance to hit for a high average with 20 plus home runs.

50. Spencer Howard (Phi, RHP, High-A)

Spencer Howard has one of the best arms in the minor leagues but has spent most of the season on the Injured List. He’s now pitching again and assuming health, has the stuff to be a number two starter.

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2019 Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects (51-100)

2018 top 100Our mid-season Top 50 has been expanded to a Top 100. While there have been many promotions, the kids keep on coming. The list is stacked with high-end prospects that are nearly ready for the show to 16-year-old kids that will be ready before you know it. Let’s face it, the game has gotten younger and players are just not staying in the minor leagues very long.

To make the list, players MUST have less than 50 IP or 130 at-bats in the Major Leagues at the time the list was published.

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.

51. Jesus Sanchez (TB, OF, Double-A)

Jesus Sanchez doesn’t get talked about a ton, but he has a solid hit tool with good raw power and a little speed. He could be a solid number three outfielder, if not more.

52. Drew Waters (Atl, OF, Double-A)

He’s batting .332 in Double-A with five home runs and 11 SBs. But, a 27% strikeout rate and a 6% walk rate says there are warning signs. He’s a toolsy player but he needs to learn to control the strike zone better.

53. Justus Sheffield (Sea, LHP, Double-A)

Justus Sheffield pitched poorly in Triple-A.  He’s been better on his demotion to Double-A and the Mariners would be well served just to move him directly to the Majors. I still like the stuff and mound presence. His ceiling continues to be a solid number three starter.

54. Will Smith (LAD, C, Triple-A)

He’s been known as a defensive catcher but over the past two years has really developed his offensive game. I like Keibert Ruiz more, but not by much.

55. Triston McKenzie (Cle, RHP, Double-A)

Triston McKenzie has been out all year with a back injury and his status has taken a clear hit. Hopefully, we will see him pitch in the second half, or at worse in the Fall League. I’m still very bullish with a ceiling of a strong number three or higher ceiling.

56. Kyle Wright (Atl, RHP, Triple-A)

I thought Kyle Wright would move through the minors quickly and then pitch well in the Majors. Well, he went through the minors quickly but stumbled in his chance in the Major League rotation. In fact, he’s pitched poorly all year. I still like the upside as a potential solid mid-rotation starter.

57. Hunter Greene (Cin, RHP, Low-A)

Hunter Greene has spent the entire season recovering from Tommy John reconstructive surgery. Prior to his surgery, the stuff was electric, and the athleticism and make-up were off the chart. Now, the ceiling is still a one, but he needs to get back on the mound so we can see what he still has.

58. Alek Thomas (Ari, OF, Low-A)

Alek Thomas was a second-round pick last season and was one of my guys to click. He’s done just that and even earned an invitation to the Futures Game. He’s shown very good strike zone awareness with good speed and power.

59. Luis Patino (SD, RHP, High-A)

After seeing Luis Patino shove it in the Futures Game, his ranking feels a little light. He’s got a fastball that can hit the upper nineties with improving secondary pitches. The control is not consistent, but he’s got simple and clean mechanics. The biggest knock and why I’ve kept his ranking in the ’50s is his size. He’s only 6-feet and 190 pounds. However, he’s one to watch.

60. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pit, 3B, Triple-A)

In a year where everyone is pounding the ball in Triple-A, Ke’Bryan Hayes is not. In 62 games, he’s hitting .242 with a .394 SLG. I still believe in the player and think there is more in the tank.

61. George Valera (Cle, OF, SS)

George Valera just missed our pre-season Top 100 list and we are making up for that here. While he’s only 18, he has a potential plus hit tool to go with at least average future power potential. Early in his career, he should be able to steal low double-digit stolen bases.

62. Deivi Garcia (NYY, RHP, Triple-A)

Deivi Garcia started the Futures Game for the American League and looked like he belonged. He’s all of 5-feet-9 but has good stuff that nobody has been able to hit. He will start for the Scranton team to begin the second half and I believe will see New York before September arrives.

63. Jordan Balazovic (Min, RHP, High-A)

Jordan Balazovic has made great strides this season that has moved him quickly up our rankings. He has a fastball that sits 94 to 95 with improving secondary pitches. When I’ve asked why his stuff is playing better, the most common answer has been – improved conditioning.

64. Anthony Kay (NYM, LHP, Triple-A)

After pitching very well in 12 starts in Double-A, the Mets promoted Anthony Kay to Triple-A where things have not gone well. I’m not too worried about that as his stuff is really good from the left side with his money pitched being a double-plus curveball with great spin-rate.

65. Julio Rodriguez (Sea, OF, Low-A)

I’m pretty sure I have Julio Rodriguez too low on this list. But, I just don’t know where to rank these high-end 18-year-old kids. He’s got five-tool potential with a very good understanding of the strike zone. He’s holding his own in the Midwest League and I see only upside in the rankings.

66. Brice Turang (Mil, 2B, Low-A)

Brice Turang was the Brewers first-round draft pick last June and has played very well in the Midwest League. He controls the strike zone extremely well, walking more than he has struck out. He also has plus bat speed with a chance to hit for at least above-average future power. While he was drafted as a shortstop, the Brewers have already started to move him to second.

67. Adrian Morejon (SD, LHP, Double-A)

Adrian Morejon continues to show premium stuff from the left side but is still not repeating his delivery well. With improved control, the upside could be a two, three at the worse. However, he continues to walk too many.

68. Alex Reyes (STL, RHP, Triple-A)

I haven’t a clue where to rank Alex Reyes. His pure stuff and athleticism say he could be an ace. However, it’s now been three years of injuries. If he can ever stay healthy…

69. Logan Allen (SD, LHP, Majors)

Logan Allen made his Major League debut a couple of weeks ago a looked great. His second start was not that great, but I still like him as a solid mid-rotation starter. He’s got great stuff, pitches from the left side and will play half his games in one of the best pitchers park in the league.

70. Andres Gimenez (NYM, SS, Double-A)

Andres Gimenez has been more of scouting guy than a stats guy. In other words, the scouting report is ahead of his production. This year, it’s more of the same. He shows good power in batting practice but has posted a .359 SLG in Double-A. He’s also struggled at the plate with his strikeout rate spiking to 23%. The good news is he continues to show excellent defense. He’s only 20, but at some point, we need to see some production. Until then, we wait…

71. Daulton Varsho (Ari, C, Double-A)

From a fantasy standpoint, Daulton Varsho might be the best catcher in the minor leagues. Anybody with the upside of 15 to 20 stolen bases who is catcher eligible who can also post a decent batting average is gold. The big question is will Varsho stay behind the plate? I think he will, at least part-time and I continue to be very bullish on the backstop.

72. Jazz Chisholm (Ari, SS, Double-A)

It’s not been a great year for Jazz Chisholm as he’s batting .202 in Double-A. The good news is he’s hit 17 home runs and stolen nine bases. The bad news is it’s come with a 34% strikeout rate. The tools are clear, but he needs to cut down on the strikeouts or he’ll never get to his tools.

73. Seth Beer (Hou, OF, Double-A)

Have you seen what Seth Beer has done this year? In 79 games across High and Double-A, he’s hit .323 with 19 home runs and a .983 OPS. Sure, he’s likely a DH with nowhere to play in Houston, but the kid can hit and hit with power.

74. Riley Greene (Det, OF, Rookie)

Riley Greene was arguably the best hitter in the 2019 high school draft class and the Detroit spent nearly $6.2 million dollars to sign the outfielder. He’s gotten off to a fast start in the GCL hitting .351 over the first nine games with two home runs. The hope is that his power will develop and if it does, he could be a high-average 25 plus home run corner outfielder. He’s a below-average runner so speed will not be part of the equation.

75. Bryse Wilson (Atl, RHP, Majors)

I continue to be high on Bryse Wilson despite his uneven performance in the Majors to-date. He’s got a quality arsenal, throws strikes with nice mound presence. For me, he’s going to be a solid mid-rotation starter.

76. Ronaldo Hernandez (TB, C, High-A)

Ronaldo Hernandez has struggled this year in High-A posting a poor .283 OPB. While he’s got plus raw power, the Florida State League has not been kind to his power. I still believe in the talent.

77. Ronny Mauricio (NYM, SS, Low-A)

Ronny Mauricio has had a solid year in Low-A as an 18-year-old. He’s hitting .280 but has yet to develop any in-game power. He’s tall at 6-foot-4 with excellent bat speed and should grow into power. Despite, his height, he’s still playing very well at short and might be able to stay there long-term. He’s still a work-in-progress but the scouting report says to invest.

78. Jarren Duran (Bos, OF, Double-A)

I’m not sure the Red Sox have publically said that Jarren Duran is better than they thought when they drafted him last season, but he sure is better than I thought. He’s got plus speed and could steal 30 plus bags at the highest level with an uncanny ability to get on base. He’s the Red Sox top prospect now and could be an interesting fantasy player.

79. Trevor Larnach (Min, OF, High-A)

Trevor Larnach was the Twins first-round draft pick last year and has a solid, if not an unspectacular season in High-A. In 78 games, he’s hit .303 (.380 BABIP) but with only five home runs. He’s got plus raw power, but the Florida State League does suppress power. The ceiling is an everyday player and not a star for me.

80. William Contreras (Atl, C, Double-A)

William Contreras has not had the step-up year I expected from him. He only posted a .668 OPS in High-A and it’s been worse in Double-A. I still like the swing and obviously the sibling pedigree that he brings.

81. Miguel Amaya (Chi, C, High-A)

I saw Miguel Amaya several times this year and while the stat line is not great (.221/.341/.373), I like the swing and he’s got very good bat speed. I’m still projecting a full-time regular with a .270 batting average and 15 to 20 home runs.

82. Leody Taveras (Tex, OF, Double-A)

The Rangers slowed Leody Taveras progression down this year and it helped get his career back on track. In 67 games in the Carolina League, he hit .297 with a .370 OBP with 21 stolen bases and three home runs. The swing works and while he needs to cut down on his strikeouts, I think he gets on base enough to provide significant stolen base upside for fantasy owners.

83. Brent Honeywell (TB, RHP, NA)

Remember Brent Honeywell? Should he even be ranked? At one point, he was one of the best pitching prospects in the game, but he’s yet to make it back from Tommy John Surgery. In fact, he was rehabbing and then had fractured his elbow in a bullpen session. That sounds very ominous, but let’s keep him ranked for now.

84. Sean Murphy (Oak, C, Triple-A)

Sean Murphy has been out since late April with a torn meniscus. He’s an offensive first catcher who has enough chops to stay behind the plate. Assuming health, he should be up at some point in 2020.

85. Jon Duplantier (Ari, RHP, Triple-A)

Jon Duplantier had some modest success in three starts in the Major Leagues and is what he is. A mid-rotation starter with a long-arm delivery that creates some deception that could lead to continued arm problems. He’s currently in Rookie Ball working his way back from injury.

86. Corbin Martin (Hou, RHP, Triple-A)

We had a glimpse of what Corbin Martin can do. Unfortunately, he got hurt and will likely be out until the 2021 season. If you have room on your minor league squad, I would stash him as I still believe the upside is a mid-rotation starter.

87. Heliot Ramos (SF, OF, High-A)

The San Francisco Giant’s first-round pick in 2017 is having a nice season in the California League. He’s posted a .879 OPS in 52 games with nine home runs and four stolen bases. He is striking out at a 25% clip which is going to suppress his batting average. But, there is speed and pop in the profile.

88. Alek Manoah (Tor, RHP, NA)

Alex Manoah was my top pitcher on the board during June’s draft. The 6-foot-6 righty has a big fastball that will touch the mid-90’s a good slider and change-up. The Blue Jays need to clean-up his delivery as he doesn’t always repeat it, but his size and stuff give him a solid mid-rotation ceiling.

89. Zac Gallen (Mia, RHP, Majors)

I don’t really like pitchers like Zac Gallen as he doesn’t have premium stuff and that usually doesn’t end well. But, you can’t argue against what Gallen has done. He can lay claim to having the best minor league season-to-date posting a 1.77 ERA in hitter-friendly Triple-A. Plus, in his three starts for Miami, he’s looked good. Nevertheless, I still have him as a number four starter.

90. Ryan Weathers (SD, LHP, Low-A)

Ryan Weathers was the Padres first-round pick last season and barely made their Top 15 list. That’s more of a testament to how deep their system is as I really like the arm. He’s had a good season pitching in the Midwest League posting a 3.38 ERA, striking out nearly 10 per nine while limiting his walks to under two per nine.

91. Nolan Gorman (3B, STL, High-A)

I will admit to being low-man on Nolan Gorman. As with Joey Gallo, I just struggle with 80-grade raw power when the player strikes out 30% of the time. Plus, as opposed to Gallo, Gorman doesn’t have the plate patience that could support a high OBP when he ultimately bats .220 or worse. Sure, he’ll hit 40 home runs, but Hunter Renfroe is going to hit 40 home runs this year.

92. Jasson Dominguez (NYY, OF, NA)

Before you call me a fool, let me explain. Yes, Jasson Dominquez is 16-years-old, but he’s the consensus top International player this year and the Yankees just signed him to a $5.1 million dollar signing bonus. That would slot into the overall number eight pick in the 2019 draft (money wise). But, if you factor in that International dollars are much less, that would slot him even higher. Plus, let’s face it – teams are doing a great job of nailing the top International players. There is plus raw power, above-average speed and with a swing that should work. Yes, he’s 16, but in most Dynasty League rookie drafts next year, he will go in the Top five players taken. How long did it take for Vlad Jr. and Wander Franco to become the top minor league prospect? Yeah, I got you thinking…

93. Brady Singer (KC, RHP, Double-A)

Brady Singer had little trouble with High-A but has struggled in his first six starts in Double-A. He has a plus fastball and slider but lacks a solid third pitch to keep lefties at bay. Plus, the delivery has effort and for me, he would work better in the bullpen.

94. Yusniel Diaz (Bal, OF, Double-A)

Yusniel Diaz has had a challenging year in Double-A showing little power and a poor batting average. However, he’s still making solid contact and showing an ability to work a walk. I haven’t seen him in two years, but when I did, the bat speed was impressive and I’m still not ready to give up on a 22-year-old talent like that.

95. Nolan Jones (Cle, 3B, High-A)

Nolan Jones has double-plus raw power but the power has yet to show up in games. While there is swing and miss in his game, he’s also posted a 20% walk rate. Perhaps he needs to become more aggressive the plate to unlock his power. I know several evaluators that are very high on him.

96. Edward Cabrera (Mia, RHP, Double-A)

I really like Miami’s future rotation with Sixto Sanchez heading the rotation and young Edward Cabrera following him. The 6-foot-4 Dominican can touch triple-digits with a nasty slurvy slider. He also shows a feel for a change-up. He’s still a little raw but is moving quickly and could rise on this list as the season progresses.

97. Alexander Canario (SF, OF, SS)

After posting a 1.000 slugging in his first 10 games in the AZL, the Giants moved Alexander Canario to Short Season ball to further his development. He can hit with a chance for future plus power.

98. Tarik Skubal (Det, LHP, Double-A)

Tarik Skubal is one of my big pop-up guys this year. The Detroit lefty pitched extremely well in High-A and shoved it on Sunday in his first taste in Double-A striking out 11 in five innings. He’s a Tommy John survivor with a very good three-pitch mix that pounds the strike zone.

99. Corbin Carroll (Ari, OF, Rookie)

I liked what the Diamondbacks did in 2018 in the draft and really liked what they did this year. Corbin Carroll, their first-round pick is tooled up and has gotten off to a nice start in the AZL. I think he could follow a similar path to what Alec Thomas did and really breakout next season.

100. Robert Pauson (Oak, SS, NA)

In all due respect to Jasson Dominquez, Robert Pauson also signed a $5.1 million signing bonus on July 2nd with the Oakland A’s. He’s still 16 but has great physical tools and is a switch hitter. Why does he make this list? Read what I wrote about Dominquez. The same thing applies.

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Hot Prospects – Week 13

HOT PROSPECTS 1The minor league season has also crossed the halfway point with the Sunday’s Futures Games the next big event for prospect watchers.  However, for me, every week is about prospects.

This week, we present 15 players who have played extremely well over the past week or so.  Wander Franco, the best hitting prospect leads our hitters and MacKenzie Gore, arguably the best pitching prospect leads our pitchers.

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. Wander Franco (TB, SS, High-A)

Five games into the Florida State League and things are going quite well for Wander Franco.  He’s batting .556 with a couple of home runs and has yet to strikeout.  Remember, he doesn’t turn 19 until next March.

2. Alex Kirilloff (Min, OF, Double-A)

I write about prospects for a living and supplement that by playing in five Dynasty Leagues.  One player that I hardly ever get asked about, nor do I see any of my league mates discuss is Alex Kirilloff.  Maybe it’s because he missed the entire 2017 season recovering from Tommy John Surgery or that he’s only hitting .268 this year with two home runs.  Perhaps people think this guy is just “ok”, but I’m here to tell you, he’s much better that.  In fact, I think he could be a star.

First, he can flat out hit.  While his 21% strikeout rate in 2019 is a little high, he’s historically been a mid-teens K%-rate guy and I expect that going forward.  He also can work a walk and is averaging nearly a 10% walk rate this season.  Secondly, there is big raw power in the bat that has yet to translate into in-game power.  The most impressive thing is that it’s not just pull-power, but it’s power to all fields.  If you told me that one day, he hits 30 home runs in the big leagues, I would not be surprised.

The Twins have a stacked young outfield, but in 2022, Eddie Rosario will be a free agent and that might mean the Twins move him prior to that.  Kirilloff could be a terrific replacement for him in 2020-21.  If not, he’s likely blocked which means something else will have to be figured out.

Kiriloff has been red hot of late batting .327 in June and .400 over the past week.

3. Ibandel Isabel (Cin, 1B, Double-A)

Ibandel Isabel carrying tool is double-plus raw power and his 19 home runs easily leads the Southern League in home runs.  The problem is his strikeouts also lead the league and that, coupled with a poor walk rate, give pause as to his ultimate ceiling.  Over the last 10-days, he’s been red-hot, hitting .314 with five home runs.

4. Blake Rutherford (CHW, OF, Double-A)

Drafted 18th overall by the Yankees in the 2016 MLB Draft, Blake Rutherford has not torn up the minor leagues.  In parts of four years, he’s hit .283 with a .308 OBP and a .408 SLG.  This year, it’s been more of the same with a decent batting average but with little power and speed.

I do believe Rutherford will be a big leaguer and that opportunity might come as early as 2020.  But I don’t see an impact performer.  There will be a little speed (10 to 12) and once he starts using the major league baseball, he could also hit double-digit home runs.  However, he needs to cut down on his strikeouts and show more plate patience.   Until then, he’s a marginal add in a dynasty league.  That said, I’m not giving up on him as I still do love the athleticism and I’m still holding out hope that he’ll be a late bloomer.

He makes our list with a .365 batting average in June but it came with a .471 SLG and one home run.

5. Cal Raleigh (Sea, C, High-A)

Drafted in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of the Florida State University, Cal Raleigh has had a nice season.  He’s a switch hitter with good raw power from both sides of the plate.  While he’s only batting .246, he’s shown an ability to control the strike zone with a reasonable strikeout rate of 21% and walk rate of 9%.

Raleigh’s carrying tool is his plus raw power and provided he can continue to control the strike zone; he has a chance to be a full-time regular.  He’s a fine receiver with a solid arm and pitchers like throwing to him.  The Mariners will likely promote him to Double-A in the second half and if he continues to progress, should see Seattle sometime in 2021.

Raleigh hit six home runs in 23 games in June batting .333 over the last week.

6. Dom Thompson-Williams (Sea, OF, Double-A)

Dom Thompson-Williams was acquired from the Yankees in the James Paxton deal prior to the 2019 season.  He started his breakout in 2018 when he hit .290 with 17 home runs and 17 stolen bases in the Florida State League and has continued his progression in Double-A.

He’s still raw at the plate but with his athleticism, there is an intriguing combination of power and speed.  While he does show good plate patience (9.0%) he is still striking out too much (26.3% strikeout rate).  If he can put it all together, the upside is a 20-20 performer with more on the power side.  However, whether he reaches this ceiling will likely come down to his ability to cut down on his strikeout rate.  He’s already 24-years-old and is still a year away from a promotion to the big leagues.

Over the past week, he’s hit .333 with four home runs.

7. Orelvis Martinez (Tor, SS, Rookie)

The Blue Jays signed Orelvis Martinez to an impressive $3.5 million dollar signing bonus last July.  The 6-foot-1 Dominican outfielder’s carrying tool is his 70-grade raw power.  While he was signed as a shortstop, his body type suggest that he will eventually move off the position to third base or even a corner outfielder.

The Blue Jays started him off in Rookie Ball and he’s showing no issues handling the league.  In his first five games, he’s hitting .421 with a home run and a stolen base.  In 22 plate appearances, he’s struck out three times and has also walked three times.

If it all comes together, the upside is a 30-home run performer.  With his quick and strong hands, he should get adept at allowing balls to travel deep into the strike zone.  If that happens, he should be able to hit for average as well.  His ability to manage the strike zone is still an open question, but based on the raw tools alone, he should be owned in most deeper Dynasty Leagues.

8. Jonathan Arauz (Hou, SS, High-A)

Jonathan Arauz was part of the return the Astros got in the Ken Giles trade in December 2015.  Signed as an international free agent earlier that year, he’s the kind of young high-upside guy that gets included in big trades.  It’s now been four years since the Astros acquired Arauz and I think it’s safe to say, the results have been inconsistent.

He’s shown an ability to control the strike zone but has yet to hit for much power.  This season, he’s hit .253 but with a 20% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate but has also only posted a .391 SLG.  Given his bat speed, I would expect to see more power in the future.  He’s also added four stolen bases.

In Dynasty Leagues, Arauz is still a hold for me, but if it all comes together, he could develop into a solid middle-infielder bat with a little speed and pop.  Over the past week, he’s shown just that.  He’s 10 for 29 with two home runs.

9. Terrin Vavra (Col, SS, High-A)

I know it’s Asheville, but Terrin Vavra continues to perform extremely well.  The third round pick last year hit .350 in June with two home runs and four stolen bases with more walks than strikeouts.  He’s a player that should be considered for all Dynasty Leagues that roster 150 or more minor league players.

10. Brett Baty (NYM, 3B, Rookie)

The Mets drafted Brett Baty in the first round (pick 12) in June’s MLB Draft and quickly signed him to an under slot $3.9 million dollars signing bonus.  The Mets took that savings and were able to then select and sign Matthew Allan, a promising right-handed pitcher later in the draft.

The Mets assigned Baty to the GCL and in five games, he’s performed very well slashing .350/.480/.650 with six strikeouts and five walks.  He also has added one home run.

Baty is currently a third baseman and time will tell if he can stay there or if a move to first base will be necessary.  Regardless, the power should play at either position but at 6-foot-3, there will be holes in his swing and therefore, pressure on the batting average.  But in the modern game, that appears to be acceptable provided the production is there.

PITCHERS

1. MacKenzie Gore (SD, LHP, High-A)

The Padres drafted MacKenzie Gore with the third overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft and he’s quickly established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the game, if not the best.

Pitching in the very difficult environment of the California League, he has dominated.  In 14 starts, he’s pitching to a 1.12 ERA, striking out 12.5 per nine while walking 2.1 per nine.  The Padres have been conservative with his workload, limiting his pitches per game early in the season and then building over each outing.  He hit a high of 100 pitches in a June 26th contest with Rancho Cucamonga.

It’s an elite arsenal with a fastball that sits 93 to 95 MPH and a double-plus curveball.  What is unique about Gore is his ability to command his fastball which allows each of his secondary pitches to play-up.  Remember, command and control are different.  Sure, he can throw strikes, which is control, but he’s able to locate his fastball to both sides of the plate and that is what gives him a ceiling of a number one.

I think he sees San Diego sometime in 2020 and given his arsenal, athleticism, and control and command, he could be good right away.  The only fear is an injury.  But that’s something that we fear with all pitchers.

2. Tarik Skubal (Det, LHP, High-A)

One of my breakout players for 2019 has been Tarik Skubal.  In four June starts, he pitched to a sub 1.00 ERA with 35 strikeouts and seven walks.  I think a promotion to Double-A should be in the cards very soon.

3. Sixto Sanchez (Phi, Mia, High-A)

After starting the season on the Injured List, Sixto Sanchez has been pitched very well; particularly of late.  In five June Double-A starts, he’s pitched to a 2.05 ERA with 35 strikeouts and five walks. I still worry about his size, but it’s an electric arsenal highlighted by an 80-grade fastball that he when he’s on, can hit 100 MPH.

4. Joey Cantillo (SD, LHP, Low-A)

The Padres have cleaned up Joey Cantillo’s delivery and he’s added a bit more velocity and the combination are paying dividends this season.  In 12 starts in Low-A, he’s pitched to a 1.19 ERA with 11.6 strikeouts per nine while walking less than two per nine.  The upside is still a number four starter, but if he can continue to smooth out the mechanics and improve his velocity, there could be more in the tank.

 

5. Brian Howard (Oak, RHP, Double-A)

Drafted in the 8th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Brian Howard has already exceeded what many expected from him.

Originally drafted by the Astros, the 6-foot-9 and 185 pounds has put on weight and the stuff has taken a nice step forward.  His fastball is now sitting 91 to 92 MPH and scraping higher with an improving slider and change-of-pace curveball.  The ceiling is likely a fourth starter in the Major Leagues, but his height and ability to control his arsenal makes him an intriguing prospect.

Last week, he was particularly impressive, pitching seven no-hit innings against Fresno in the Texas League with seven strikeouts and only two walks.

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Week 14 Waiver Wire Pick-ups

Waiver Wire2Our senior baseball writer, Tim McLeod is on a much-deserved vacation, so he’s left the writing of this week’s waiver wire in my hands.  He did provide some names. I added a view and wrote up the capsules.  I hope it meets your lofty expectations.

The full list can be found here.

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Hot Prospects – Week 12

HOT PROSPECTS 1We are a little late getting our list out this week due to an extensive scouting trip.  But, hopefully, you will enjoy the list.  We continue to try and dig deeper for players and hope we have hit the mark.

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. Marco Luciano (SF, SS, Rookie)

First, there was Vlad Jr., then Wander, and now there just might be Marco.  One of the big international bonus babies last year, Marco Luciano has gotten off to a strong start to the season batting .345 with three home runs and a stolen base.  He’s a great athlete with double-plus speed and good bat speed, but he doesn’t have that natural bat-to-ball skills of Vlad or Wander.  That doesn’t mean he won’t be special.  He’s a long way off but he’s a talent in which to invest.

2. Jo Adell (Ari, OF, Double-A)

Jo Adell started the season on the Injured List but is making up for lost time batting .418 in 19 games in Double-A.  It’s coming very easy for the dynamic outfielder with some now whispering he could see Los Angeles in the second half.  If the Angels are in it, I think that could happen.  The question of course is will they be in it?

3. Jhailyn Ortiz (Phi, OF, High-A)

In a Dynasty League, I picked up Jhailyn Ortiz with a high draft pick in a rookie draft and it hasn’t panned out.  While he’s got tremendous raw power, the strikeouts and poor approach has stalled his progression.  Over the past week, he’s shown why the Phillies spent $4 million dollars on signing him.  He hit five home runs in a week but still managed to strikeout once a day without a walk.  He’s still a hold for me.

4. Alec Bohm (Phi, 3B, Double-A)

Drafted as the third overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Alec Bohm had a difficult inaugural season batting .224 in the New York Penn League while posting a dismal .290 SLG.  2019 has been a different season.  In Low-A, he hit .368 with a .592 SLG which got him a promotion to High-A where he continued to hit and show power.  This week he was promoted to Double-A and while he didn’t hit the ground running, it’s been a great season so far for the 22-year-old third baseman.  Fantasy owners can breathe a little easier.

5. C.J. Abrams (SD, SS, Rookie)

The Padres 2019 first round draft pick, C.J. Abrams, signed his contract a week ago and has torn up the rookie league.  In six games, he’s hit .464 with a .714 SLG hitting a home run and stealing a base.  He has 80-grade speed and should also develop some power.  The question is will he be able to hit.  So far, so good.

6. Bo Bichette (Tor, SS, Triple-A)

The Blue Jays are just not a very good team.  Vlad Jr. has been good but has been outplayed by Tatis Jr. and even Air Yordan.  Perhaps he needs his minor league teammate Bo Bichette to make him feel comfortable.  It sure looks like Bichette is ready, hitting .396 since returning from a stint on the Injury List with two home runs and five stolen bases.  I’ll say it again.  Vlad has more power and is a slightly better hitter, but if you told me Bichette is the better fantasy player, in the end, I would not be surprised.  He can hit with plus speed and well above-average power.

7. Cal Stevenson (Tor, OF, High-A)

For a $5,000 investment in 2018, Cal Stevenson is already paying dividends.  He has a .880 OPS in 123 professional games with six home runs and 29 stolen bases.  This season, he’s handled High-A just fine and has really started to show off his speed by stealing four bases so far in June. He’s likely a fourth outfielder, but he can hit with good speed and a little pop.  He’s one to watch.

8. Brent Rooker (Min, OF, Triple-A)

Brent Rooker’s carrying tool is his plus power, but after striking out 150 times in 130 games last season, there have been concerns whether he will hit enough to get to his double-plus raw.  He’s not doing much to answer that this year as he’s struck out 70 times in 48 games in Double-A.  The power is real though as he went back-to-back-to-back-to-back (that’s four, right) last week.

9. Brandon Howlett (Box, 3B, High-A)

I had a chance to see Brandon Howlett on a recent scouting trip and came away impressed.  The swing works and I think he’ll add some power as he develops.  In 18 games in June, he’s hit .357 with 21 strikeouts and 13 walks.  He’s always struck out a lot, but the walks can make up for that – somewhat.  He’s a kid to watch.

10. Alexander Canario (SF, OF, Rookie)

We were very high on Alexander Canario last season ranking him fifth on the Giants Top 15 list last winter.  This season, he’s gotten off to a great start hitting .400 in six games in the AZL with four home runs and a stolen base.  At this pace, he won’t be there long.

PITCHERS

1. Deivi Garcia (NYY, RHP, Double-A)

Deivi Garcia is only 5-foot-9, but after seeing him pitch this week, I’m almost willing to look past the obvious.  On June 18th, he struck out 15 in six no-hit innings and then followed that up with a five no-hit innings and nine strikeouts.  How is he doing it?  His fastball sits 92 to 94 MPH with some 95s mixed in, but his out pitch is a double-plus curveball that he can throw for strikes.  The change-up also got plenty of swing and miss when I saw him.  However, it’s hard not to be skeptical when you see him.  He’s short and home runs will likely be a problem (although they haven’t been so far).  For me, I’d bring him up.  I think he’s ready and he sure isn’t going to get any taller.  Let’s see how it plays.

2. Dustin May (LAD, RHP, Double-A)

Dustin May is pushing very hard for my minor league Mount Rushmore of pitchers.  After a tough May stretch, he’s gotten it back together to pitch to a 2.70 ERA in June with 23 strikeouts and four walks.  The stuff is really good, but the command is not yet consistent.  If he catches too much of the plate, he can hit.  Fortunately, there hasn’t been too much of that this year.

3. Justus Sheffield (Sea, LHP, Double-A)

I’m sure Justus Sheffield expected to be a mainstay in the Seattle rotation by now.  But, he got beat up in the PCL which has delayed in arrival.  The Mariners moved him back to Double-A, in part to get his confidence back and it’s work.  In two-start (12 innings), he’s given up two runs, striking out 16 and walking two.

4. MacKenzie Gore (SD, LHP, High-A)

Sure, Casey Mize is hurt and can’t defend himself, but if you told me that MacKenzie Gore is the best pitcher in the minor leagues, I think I can be convinced.  It’s still an odd delivery, but it works for the athletic lefty.  He has tamed the California League (no easy feat) with a 1.23 ERA and over 12 strikeouts per nine and two walks per nine.  He’ll likely receive a promotion to Double-A in the next week or two and could easily see San Diego next season.

5. Kyle Wright (Atl, RHP, Triple-A)

After tearing through the minor leagues, Kyle Wright hit a wall in 2019.  I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the MLB ball in Triple-A, but a 6.08 ERA in 11 starts, coupled with three ineffective starts in Atlanta have slowed him down.  The stuff and control are still there, he just needs to locate better as he’s getting hit hard when he misses.  The last two games prove this out.  On June 14th, he was dominate (7.2 IP with 10K and 2 walks).  On June 20th, he gave up three earned runs in four innings with six strikeouts and two walks.

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Hot Prospects – Week 11

HOT PROSPECTS 1Short season ball has started and the pool of players who can make our Hot Prospects List has increased.  We have only added one this week in George Valera.  He’s has gotten off to a terrific start the season and assuming that continues, could be a consideration for our Top 100 list next season.

It’s another great list with names for deeper Dynasty Leagues as well as players who are close to the Majors.  If your league has forgotten about Jesus Luzardo and he is on the waiver wire, now is the time to add him.  He’s likely a couple of weeks away from the Majors, but he looks healthy and has performed well in the early going.

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. Ronaldo Hernandez (TB, C, High-A)

Entering the 2019 season, we considered Ronaldo Hernandez to be one of the best young catching prospects in the game, ranking number 83 on our pre-season Top 100 list.  The Rays challenged the 21-year-old backstop by starting him off in Port Charlotte of the Florida State League where he got off to a very poor start.  At the end of April, he was batting .196 in 14 games.

As the weather warmed and Hernandez got comfortable with the level, his natural bat-to-ball skills emerged.  He hasn’t shown his plus power in the league, but the FSL is a pitcher’s league, so there is no concern as the raw power is still there.  As a former pitcher, he has a double-plus arm with his receiving skills a work-in-progress.  It’s one reason why the Rays have been slow with his development.

The only offensive knock against Hernandez is that he is very aggressive at the plate.  In 46 games, he has only walked 3.6% of the time.  Ultimately this could limit his upside, but the offensive bar is very low for catchers, so his plus power and solid contact skills continue to give him a Top 5 catcher upside.

2. Sherten Apostel (Tex, 3B, Low-A)

Sherten Apostel has graduated from our hidden five list which can only be heard on our weekly “Just Prospect” podcast.  After a slow start to the season, as June has rolled along, he’s really turned it up a notch hitting .306 with five home runs.

Apostel’s carrying tool is his plus power but he does have swing and miss in his game.  He’s currently a below-average runner and as he fills out, his speed will likely continue to diminish.  At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, a move to first base could be in the cards.  I do believe the bat will work at first as there could be 30 plus home run power in the bat.  However, owners should temper their expectations as it could come with a .240 batting average.  Since he can work a walk, his on-base percentage could add 80 to 100 points on his average.

3. George Valera (Cle, OF, Short-Season)

George Valera was one of the big bonus babies in the 2017 international signing period when he signed a $1.3 million dollar signing bonus as a 16-year-old.  He only got into six games last year but started Sshort-Season ball with Mahoning Valley and immediately hit.  In his first three games, he was 4 for 13 with two doubles and two home runs.

When he was signed, Valera was lauded as a five-tool talent, which you hear all the time, but in Valera’s case, it might be true. He has great bat speed and the physicality to suggest he could develop plus power in the future.  He has the kind of swing mechanics that suggest solid contactability. He’s currently a plus runner but should slow as he matures.

Valera is only 18 years old and therefore the ceiling has a wide range. While he’s likely four or five years away, if it all comes together, he has star potential.

4. Drew Waters (Atl, OF, Double-A)

Drew Waters was one of the sexy names coming into the season and he has not disappointed.  In 68 games, he’s hit .338 with five home runs and 10 stolen bases.  With his speed-power combination, the upside continues to be a 20-20 performer, but unfortunately, there are issues lurking.

If you dig into his ability to control the strike zone, there are warning signs.  He has a 27% strikeout rate while walking only 5.7% of the time.  The reason he’s been able to post a .300 batting average is an unsustainable .463 BABIP.  His expected average is more in the .230s.  Unfortunately, an adage continues to be true – you can’t steal first.

That said, I still like Waters.  He’s only 20-years-old and is one of the younger players in Double-A.  He’s not Ronald Acuna and it might make sense for the Braves to slow his progression down a little.  I know fans are calling for a promotion to Triple-A, but a full year in Double-A and then a full year in Triple-A in 2020 is not the worse thing for his development.

5. Anthony Alford (Tor, OF, Triple-A)

I continue to be a fan of Anthony Alford, but I’m not sure the Blue Jays agree with me.  After a slow start, he’s hitting .389 in June but didn’t play last weekend.  He’s a terrific athlete who should be able to steal bases in bunches with growing pop.  Will, he hit enough?  I think we need to find out with a long look in the Major Leagues.  What, are the Blue Jays contending this year?

6. Steele Walker (CHW, OF, High-A)

Steele Walker was drafted in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft based on the impressive .352/.441/.606 stat line he produced in his junior year at Oklahoma.  I had a chance to see him twice in Kannapolis this season and he was clearly too advanced for the league.  He made solid contact to all fields and showed well above-average speed on the bases and in center field.  He also showed some pop in batting practice but did not hit anything out of the park in his 20 games in the Sally League.

After being promoted, he initially struggled but started to put together things in June.  He even started showing some in-game over-the-fence power.

Walker has tools, plays the game with enthusiasm and has started to control the strike zone better.  However, in the end, I see him as a second division starter at the highest level or a fourth outfielder on a contender.  He could develop 15 home run power with high single-digit stolen bases.  Whether he should be owned in Fantasy League will be determined by how he hits.

7. Marcus Wilson (Bos, OF, High-A)

After Marcus Wilson posted a solid .295 average with nine home runs and 15 stolen bases in 2017, I became intrigued with a potential 20-20 performer.  However, 2018 was not a good year and the Diamondbacks traded him to Boston in the deal that sent Blake Swihart to the desert earlier this season.  They started him off in Double-A and it went poorly.  He hit .161 in 19 games with 13 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances.

After a demotion to High-A, Wilson got his sea legs and has performed well.  In 25 games, he’s posted a .880 OPS.  However, a 32% strikeout rate implies that the success might be short-lived.  At 22, he’s still young but he needs to make better contact or the speed-power skills that he has will never be realized.

8. Cristian Pache (Atl, OF, Double-A)

Cristian Pache is an elite defender and that skill alone should provide him with a Major League paycheck for a long time.  BTW, there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

While I know many Dynasty League owners have pushed Drew Waters ahead of Pache, I’m not one of them.  Pache makes better contact and I believe will have better secondary skills in the long-term (power and speed).  For me, it’s not close.  Plus, he’s the same age as Waters.

Assuming Pache continues to hit at a .260 clip, I believe he will get regular at-bats in Atlanta.  The upside for me continues to be a 20-20 performer, but a lot of things will have to go right for him to hit that ceiling.  In Double-A this year, he’s posted a .261 batting average with nine home runs and seven stolen bases.  He’s been hot over the past week including hitting two of his nine home runs.

9. Nick Allen (Oak, SS, High-A)

Nick Allen was on the short list last season to make the Oakland Top 15 prospect list but just fell short.  I like his swing and think he’ll hit his way to the big leagues.  Plus, he’s a nice defender and at worse, could profile as a fourth outfielder.  He’s a plus runner but doesn’t have a ton of power.  In June, he’s hit .349 with a .524 SLG.

10. Will Smith (LAD, C, Triple-A)

In one of my Dynasty Leagues, I saw Austin Barnes being traded for a significant return.  With the catching depth in the Dodgers organization, it didn’t make any sense to me.  While Keibert Ruiz is still a year away, Will Smith is ready.  In fact, he’s already gotten a taste of the big leagues earlier this year and did well.  Plus, he’s raking in Triple-A, hitting a home run in each of his last five games.  Granted, it was in Albuquerque and El Paso, he’s clearly showing enough for another potential promotion – and this time, it might just stick.

Pitchers

1. Luis Gil (NYY, RHP, Low-A)

It’s been hit or miss so far this year with Luis Gil.  When he can control his arsenal, he’s unhittable.  When he doesn’t, well, he’s still unhittable but will rack up the walks.  In two starts last week, he struck out 18 while walking three in 12 innings and gave up only one earned run.

At an athletic 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, there is a lot to work with Gil.  He’s got a simple delivery that when combined with his athleticism should allow him to eventually control his arsenal.  It’s the bet I usually make on young pitchers and if you have the patience, they can turn into stars. It’s a big fastball with a big spin rate that can touch triple-digits.  His secondary pitches are still a work in progress but assuming they develop, Gil has significant upside.  The floor is a bullpen arm with a chance to see high-leveraged situations.

2. Sixto Sanchez (Mia, RHP, Double-A)

Sixto Sanchez was the lead player in the trade that sent J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia over the winter.  He missed all of April with a shoulder issue and over the month of May, didn’t have the same level of command that he’d shown in the past.   However, as the calendar rolled over to June, the control and command started to return, and he’s looked dominant.

He has easy velocity (up to triple-digits) with a slider that also has a chance to be a plus offering.  He’s still trying to find a consistent feel for his change-up but it’s clearly the stuff of a front-of-the-rotation arm. The only concern for me continues to be his size.  He’s only 6-feet tall.  It’s easy to throw a Pedro Martinez and of recent vintage, Luis Severino comparisons as pitchers with elite stuff who are small in stature.  However, those examples are exceptions and not the rule.  Can Sanchez be an exception?  Sure, but just temper your expectations.

I continue to be bullish on Sanchez as the arm is clearly special.  For me, the outcomes could be a number one starter or a very good number two, to a lock-down closer.

3. Dean Kremer (Bal, RHP, Double-A)

Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dean Kremer was part of the return in the Manny Machado trade.  His 2019 season started slow due to an oblique strain and he appeared rusty out of the gate.  Once he got his sea legs under him, the control returned, and the stat line started to look a lot better.  In his past two starts, he has pitched 13 innings, striking out 17 and walking only one.

Kremer has a good arsenal but it’s more back-of-the-rotation as opposed to front-of-the-rotation.  His fastball sits 92 to 94 and will scrape higher with an average curveball.  He’s still trying to find a feel for his change-up.  All of his pitches play up when he’s able to throw them for strikes.  The delivery has some crossfire, and while that provides some deception, it could lead him vulnerable to arm-side bats.

If you put it all together, the upside is a number four starter (maybe slightly more) or a nice bullpen arm.  However, since most of the better arms in the Orioles organization are in their lower minors, he should get an opportunity in 2020 and 2021 to make a major league career.

4. Ian Anderson (Atl, RHP, Double-A)

Pitching is so hard to develop.  The Braves are a testament to that.  They had some of the best arms in the minor leagues in their system and while it’s still too soon to declare success or failure, so far, the jury is still out. Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Sean Newcomb, Bryse Wilson, Luiz Gohara have all had their chance but have yet to establish themselves.  Only Mike Soroka has stuck in the Major Leagues in their recent crop.  Don’t get me wrong, they are all talented with Major League upside, it’s just very hard to pitch at the highest level.  It’s why you need depth.

Ian Anderson is yet another pitcher that will be added to this depth by 2020 and for my money, after Soroka, he has the best chance to establish himself.  He has the ideal pitcher’s body at 6-foot-3, is athletic with two current plus pitches in his fastball and curveball with a change-up that has improved greatly.  The walks are still a problem, but once he can solve that, which I think he will, there’s a number two ceiling.

June has told the story the best.  In three starts, he has struck out 23 given up 11 hits in 17.2 innings but has also walked seven.

5. Jesus Luzardo (Oak, LHP, Triple-A)

After spending the first two months on the Injured List, Jesus Luzardo has returned and has looked as good as he did before going down with a shoulder strain in Spring Training.  In two starts in High-A, he’s struck out 11 in seven innings while not giving up a walk.  He now moves to Triple-A to get stretched out.  It will likely take at least three starts, but assuming health, he should be able to help the big-league club in July.