On this lovely Thursday afternoon, I’m going to approach this post as sort of a potpourri of minor league topics. It’s callup season, which is the most joyous, stressful, and busy times of the year for us Prospectors. Everyone wants to know who’s the next big callup, and when to stash them. It’s a tricky game to master, because there might not be a task more impossible to perfect, than getting in these teams heads. So we’ll go over my top 10 callups for June and beyond, and cross my fingers that I’m more than 50% correct. We’ll also talk some prospects making noise this week, and maybe drop a couple jewels on the draft and impending July 2nd signings. There’s so much to talk about! There’s so much to take my mind off of my many mediocre teams, and general inadequacies in RCL gameplay when matched against luminaries like Grey, Cram It, Nick The Dick, and Matt Truss. Hey, at least J-FOH isn’t beating my ass this year! These are the times I’m glad dynasty exists, I can crawl back into my hole, and dig in on some prospecting. Just me, my gold pan, and a world of infinite possibilities. It’s a mixed bag of minor league magic. It’s the latest edition of the minor league update.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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We should’ve taken it as a sign of superhuman abilities, when Bo Bichette’s body digested his burst appendix last season. That’s so insane Chuck Norris is impressed. Matt Wieters facts never made a claim that lofty. That’s some X-Men mutant baseball machine stuff. The craziest part is he unknowingly played through it for a week, and raked!!! I know, I know a story this good, it’s really a lot to digest… Thank you, I’ll be here all week, literally. As exciting as it might seem to get a lesson in freaky anatomy happenings from me, that’s not why I bring up Bichette. Though it might be in line with his recent production. Freakish!! As I write this he just finished off a 4 for 5 night, with a double, a triple, and 2 runs scored. The game actually started as a 4 for 4 night, and was a diving grab away from being a 5 for 5 night. This isn’t an isolated incident either, but you knew that if you were paying attention.

After slashing .427/.451/.732 in 91 plate appearances during his stint in the Gulf Coast League in 2016. Bichette has continued that dominance in his first run at full season ball. He currently leads the Midwest League in batting average, OBP, Slugging, and has an OCD like 7 homers and 7 steals. He’s riding a 13 game hitting streak, and needs to be owned in all dynasty formats of all types. He’s outperforming teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who by the way, is performing pretty well. Bichette is of course a year older, so any comps should be taken with a grain of salt. All this to say, Bichette, who didn’t make my Top 100 in February might be in my Top 50 now. Things change fast in the minors…… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

As the Durham Bulls took the best little minor league pitching circus this side of Mississippi, literally, on the road. I promised myself I’d check out at least one game during the nearest stop on their International (League) tour. This is a rotation that now features the struggling, but still talented Blake Snell, recently activated off-season acquisition Jose De Leon, top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell, and the strikeout king of AAA Jacob Faria. I’ve discussed Faria a lot of late, because he’s obviously a prospect that fascinates me. On Saturday in Pawtucket he went 4 strong innings before ending his night after completing the 4th. The early exit was more than likely due to the line drive he took off his leg earlier in the inning. It was really too bad, as Faria looked to have his best stuff on the night, outside a two run homer to Bryce Brentz nothing was hit hard at all. The first thing that strikes me when watching Faria is I love his change up. It has some nice break, and he throws it from a similar arm slot to the fastball. Speaking of the fastball, it too is a solid pitch getting some sink, and making it tougher on the hitters to barrel cleanly. This 1-2 punch gives Faria all the fuel he needs to pile up the strikeouts in bunches, however he has a tendency to nibble and that limits how deep into games he can get. Saturday was one of his more efficient performances, making the injury all the more upsetting. I have to admit I came away impressed by Faria, and think he has solid mid-rotation upside with some nice K potential. I mean look at that gif below and tell me you don’t like what you see. Amirite?!?  Today I venture back to Pawtucket to check out the Rays top prospect Brent Honeywell, who just so happens to check in as the 7th most valuable pitcher on Rudy’s Prospectornator. Don’t worry I promise to give you all the details on Honeywell….Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB…

   

This isn’t a new take, but it’s one that bears repeating; baseball is the only sport where the best starting lineup isn’t on the field all season. The service time game does nobody any favors, actually that’s incorrect, it does huge favors for the owners of the biggest market clubs. It hurts the fans, it hurts the players, it hurts the small market teams, and most of all, it hurts the product on the field. The most glaring example at present is the peculiar case of Amed Rosario. The Mets’ farmhand has been smoking hot all season long, slashing .363/.400/.536 for AAA Las Vegas, while chipping in with 4 homers and 9 steals.

Just to compare and contrast, as of May 25th the Mets have gotten a .225/.307/.345 slashline from the shortstop position. I might be going out on a limb here, but that’s not good. The production from the hot corner for the Mess hasn’t been much better, as they’ve gotten a .240/.302/.374 line from the 3rd base position. It’s pop quiz time, hot shots! What do you think, could Amed Rosario possibly help the Mets? There’s only one answer, and it rhymes with mess. To add salt to the wounds of Mets fans (sorry 1 F), and Rosario owners alike, the shortstop prospect extended his hit streak to 11 games last night. The most remarkable part of that streak isn’t the 11 games, but the fact that 8 of those games have been multi-hit efforts. So not only is Rosario hitting in every game the last two weeks, he’s pretty much collecting multiple hits in each contest.

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Rosario fan in the fantasy community, but that’s also not to say I don’t like Rosario, because I do. He has an excellent hit tool, never strikes out, and his glove will keep him in the lineup. My questions about Rosario lie in just how much pop is in his bat, and just how many steals are in those legs. There’s certainly pop, and there’s certainly speed, but just how much he possesses will determine his ultimate value. Don’t get me wrong Crabs, haters, and countrymen, I’m not saying a high batting average and lots of counting stats won’t be helpful, they will.  What I am saying, if Rosario can get to 15 homers and 20 steals in a single season, we could be talking about a superstar. Now, will he reach those numbers this year? Hell to the no, but 8 homers and 12 steals the rest of the way wouldn’t be absurd. If you’re wondering just how soon Rosario will be called up, my best guess is any day now. It could honestly be any time between today and mid-June. The Mets have had him take some reps at 3rd as of late too, so they’re looking at different ways of getting him into the lineup. Well, at least I think they want him in the lineup. After all, it’s The Mess. Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

It only took a little over 24 hours for the Luis Robert sweepstakes to come to a close. As news broke yesterday afternoon that the Chicago White Sox had struck a deal in the $25 million to $30 million dollar range with the 19 year old Cuban phenom. This is a significant development on a few fronts; for real life baseball, this will be the last deal signed under the old rules, where teams weren’t capped on international free agents under the age of 23. It’s also significant because, the White Sox, might just have in their possession, 2 to 3 of the top ceiling prospects in the minors at the moment. Those of course being Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and now Luis Robert. The other element to this story is Moncada and Robert will forever be linked to each other, not just by nationally, or organization, but also by dollars and the expectations attached to those presidential flashcards. As for Luis Robert the player, much like Moncada, he’s as high end in terms of talent as they come. Many have graded Robert’s hit tool a touch below Moncada’s at a 55, with some concern about his swing and miss. Where Robert edges out Moncada is in his 70 grade speed mark, and 60 grade fielding. Some scouts see Robert’s power ceiling being higher, but even those scouts mark it as a splitting hairs difference. So we’re talking about a true 5 tool talent, with some additional polish to his fielding. Though it tends to be overlooked in fantasy it’s actually a major positive for his owners, as it might accelerate his ETA two years from now. There’s little doubt in my mind he’s the clearcut top overall choice in 2017-18 First Year Player Drafts, and it’s really not close at the moment. Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB…

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Yesterday summer came to New England, after months of teetering between 12 degrees, and 47 and rainy, the sun finally showed and warmed our frozen souls with it’s powerful rays. Perfect timing for me to, as Wednesday’s are by far the busiest days of my week. I have a work related meeting every “Hump Day” at 7 AM in downtown Boston, and that’s no joy to wake up and get to. So my day starts at 5 AM. I perform my usual “triple S”, make my coffee, finish the latest episode of Halp and Grey in the (insert time slot here) on the ride in, while I think about how badly I mis-ranked Alex Wood in my weekly pitching rankings. I mean there’s always one, right? So my day chugs along like a shiny steam engine from morning meeting, to morning workout, to morning meeting, to lunch, to afternoon meeting, to afternoon meeting. By 5 o’clock I’m toast, but there’s no rest for The Prospector, becuase it’s time to pickup my oldest from after-school care. Yesterday was a special one, as my son greeted me with his newest homemade “SpongeBob Squarepants” book, let’s just say he needs to work on his spelling. With all this to do, a man needs some time to his self, just him and his Schrock. I learned as a young man making time for one’s Schrock can make all the difference when it comes to your daily outlook, and just general disposition. Enough about my day, let’s discuss my Schrock. Now my Schrock is a well maintained smooth Schrock, what it lacks in size, it makes up for with heart, technique, and advanced approach. My Schrock might look undersized, but it packs surprising power. In fact this spring my Schrock, let’s call him Max, made quite the impression in the Arizona sun. If by this point you haven’t figured out that I’m talking about Oakland A’s 2nd base prospect Max Schrock, then you my friend have a dirty mind. So who is this little SOB? Well if you’ve been paying attention then you’d know that Schrock’s been discussed in this space before, as well as on the prospect podcast. For my podcast co-host Michael C. Halpern of Imaginarybrickwall.com loves Schrock! Loves him! So far in 2017 Schrock has struggled a bit to pick up where he left off in spring training. Yesterday, however, Schrock finally broke out his boom stick, and put the wood to two Yohander Mendez pitches. Going double dong on his way to a 3 for 4 day with two solo jobs. Schrock can always get it done by his lonesome, even if the Rockhounds lost to the Roughriders 7-4. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. As for Schrock’s 2017 he’s currently slashing .277/.315/.433 with 5 homers and 3 steals.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

It’s gotta be tough having the same name as a famous person. You’re some how indirectly responsible for whatever they’re doing, or have ever done. I can relate, for mine is the same as world renowned fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Well, at least his government name. So perhaps that’s my bias when rooting for Astros outfield prospect Derek Fisher. I feel his pain… While sharing a name with the former Lakers point guard turned homewrecker isn’t what it used to be. He’s got to be sick to death of silly puns like my title, Amirite?  Celebrity names aside, Fisher has been one of the best performers in the minors this season. He’s in the midst of a 16 game hitting streak, that’s seen him slash .394/.429/.712 with 5 homers, and 2 steals. An Astros outfield that once seemed so hard to crack doesn’t seem so insurmountable. Make no mistake that last statement has as much to do with Fisher, as it does anyone else’s lack of production. Since first being promoted to AAA on August 7th of last season, Fisher’s numbers are eye-popping. Over his first 52 AAA games the outfielder is slashing .309/.373/.547 with 13 homers, 9 steals, and a 8.3% walk rate. That’s not to say there aren’t some flaws, he’s always struck out around 25% of the time, and he’s not the most efficient basestealer either. So it wouldn’t surprise me if he struckout over 25% of the time in the majors, and saw his steal totals capped around 10-12 per season. But that’s not why I’m excited, it’s the fact that Fisher seems to be getting better. Following a roughish start to 2016 in AA, Fisher was promoted to Fresno as a challenge last season, and he rose to the occasion. I think he can be a very ownable outfielder in 12 team mixed leagues, if he finds himself seeing a majority of the starts in Houston this summer. Expect a .270ish average 20+ home run pop, and some steals mixed in. He’s an exciting player, and one that should be owned in all leagues with prospects or minor leagues of any kind. Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Every few years a farm system develops to the point that it’s busting at the seams with talent. An organization builds  and before you know it they’ve cultivated more talent than they can possibly use, and therefore have reached what I call the “embarrassment of riches” phase. This time is now for the Atlanta Braves farm system, long thought to be propped up by the organizations pitching depth, that is no longer the case. So far early in the 2017 campaign the Braves have produced two of the breakout stars of the young season in Ronald Acuna, and newly (re)converted catcher Alex Jackson. To call Acuna a breakout star is probably a bit disingenuous, as he was well within my Top 100 in the pre-season, ranking 42nd overall. This is how I described him then, “Could be this season’s Victor Robles. Five tool player, that tore up Australia this winter, poised for a big jump in the mid-season list. Trade for him now.” I hope you listened to my advice and traded for him then, because after his entrance to AA on Tuesday he might be tough to wrangle from his owners. What exactly has the 19 year old outfielder done since his promotion on Tuesday? How about going 6/8 with 2 homers, 2 steals, 4 runs, and 4 RBIs. It’s funny how Acuna has exploded the last few weeks after initially struggling to start the season. After slashing .209/.261/.349 in the season’s first 11 games, Acuna is hitting .355/.398/.605 with 4 homers and 10 steals in the 18 matches since. As I said calling him a breakout is disingenuous, but he looks to be rising into another tier of prospects. As for his former and future teammate Alex Jackson the story is quite different. As the former 6th overall pick in the 2014 draft struggled for 2 1/2 years in the Mariners organization, before being traded to the Braves this offseason for a pair of fringe major league starters. Jackson at one point in time was one of the more decorated high school players in recent memory. Having been named a three time Baseball America All-American, a two time Under Armor All-American, and even winning Baseball Prospectus Prospect of the Year before even being drafted. A catcher in high school, the Mariners decided to move him to the outfield, where Jackson struggled. Slowly his body and skill set deteriorated, and many minor league experts, myself included had written him off. Bad move on our part. Since joining the Braves organization and being moved back to catcher, all Jackson has done is take siege of the notoriously pitching friendly Florida State League, hitting .296/.348/.592 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 31 contests. He seems to have abandoned some patience in lieu of power, but when the results are good I’d take it every time. It’s getting to the point with Jackson, that if this continues into the summer he could easily rank within the top 5 fantasy catchers in the minors. Here’s the other happenings in the MiLB over the last few days.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

At the quarterly Prospector meetings many topics are broached. Favorite sweatpants style, least favorite fellow Prospector, gold tooth picks, but far and away the most popular discussion amongst my peers, “Who’s your favorite Atlanta Braves Pitching Prospect?”. If you know anything about the Braves farm system, then you know there’s so many names to choose from. Think about it, there’s Anderson, there’s Soroka, there’s Fried, and Gohara, the list goes on and on. However, I Prospect Versace, find myself enamored with the best and brightest of them all, Kolby Allard. As a 19 year old in AA he’s setting the Southern League ablaze with a 1.36 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, and a 7.64 K/9 to a 1.91 Bb/9. The lefty was taken by the Braves 14th overall way back in the 2015 draft, and has really taken off since early injury woes. He’s made quick work of the lower levels of the minors, never sporting an ERA higher than 4 during his 90+ pro innings leading up to 2017. The stuff has never been an issue for Allard as he throws a plus fastball in the low to mid 90’s, a plus curveball (seen below), and an improving change. His control and command are advanced for a 19 year old, and with AA looking like just another notch in his belt, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Allard in Atlanta come next year. On the most recent episode of the prospect podcast, we discuss whether or not Allard is the highest upside starter in the minors, and it’s truly possible. The only thing holding the young lefty back is a checkered injury history, with a previous back surgery. While he’s more than likely owned even in the shallowest of dynasty formats, he’s a must add on the off change he’s not. A worthy trade target for rebuilding clubs too. Here’s your minor league update for May 7th.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

During the winter I made a somewhat bold statement, that I’m not sure many agreed with it at the time. I stated that, I’d rather have Rhys Hoskins long term than Tommy Joseph. There was a great deal of skepticism regarding Hoskins 2016, mostly because it took place in the comfy confines of FirstEnergy (not a typo) Stadium. And really, who can blame them? The ballpark is so bananas, it tricked people into thinking Darin Ruf, and Dylan Cozens were actually good. That said, there was a lot to like about Hoskins profile,  FirstEnergy (not a typo) Stadium not withstanding. Throughout his professional career he’s hit for power (.233 ISO), average (.291), gotten on base (.375), and walked at a high rate (10.4%). He’s also done all this while striking out at a sub-20% clip. Tell me that doesn’t scream MLB worthy? In the offseason I was by far the high man on Hoskins, ranking him 57th in my top 100. Fast forward two and half months, and Hoskins is the new danger, hitting a robust .350/.447/.675 with 8 homers, and 15 RBIs in just 24 games. Meanwhile Tommy J struggles in Philly, and the calls for Hoskins in Philly get louder. Sure he’s a righthanded throwing first baseman, but Paul Goldschmidt scoffs at you scoffs at your concerns. I put my money where my mouth is on Hoskins, and dealt Nick Gordon, and T.J. Friedl in the Basbeall Prospectus expert league, The Devil Rejects, back in November, and am quite happy with how my gamble looks to paying off. This prospector’s word of advice, go get Hoskins. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this week in the minors.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   
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