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Back in 2012 a 26 year old Phillies first base prospect by the name of Darin Ruf hit 38 homers while playing for AA affiliate Reading. Ruf never approached a season like that before or since, and quickly washed out as he reached AAA and the majors. Over the seasons that have followed any Reading player with a power surge is looked at with skeptical looks and side eye. Dylan Cozens is the latest in a long line of Phillie farmhands to bear this cross. Over the past week Cozens has accelerated the home run pace of his magical 2016, hitting 6 homers and slashing .360/.429/.1.240. As of Saturday night Cozens’ home run total for the season sits at 32 in just 106 games. I’ve written about Cozens a few times over the past few months, and quite honestly the gaudy offensive numbers are tough to ignore. Prior to the 2016 breakout, Cozens was an intriguing prospect. Built like an NFL tight end, and blessed with raw power and base running ability. Cozens presents raw potential that would entice any dynasty owner to take a second look, but the red flags are there and shouldn’t be ignored. First and foremost, though Cozens has always produced raw power it never materialized until he reached Reading. To say that Cozens success is Reading aided is an understatement. Of his 32 homers he’s only connected for 6 away from FirstEnergy Stadium. The home and away slugging % splits are staggering, as he boast a Bondsian .801 SLG% at home, but a .415 on the road. That’s an absurd difference of .386! Or he’s a full Dee Gordon different at home. Next on the red flag rundown is Cozens long lefthanded swing. While it’s picturesque when it connects for a long fly, it’s down right ugly when he misses, particularly on balls to the outside part of the plate. Look no further than his nearly 30% k rate for evidence. The last, and in some ways, the most alarming of the red flags is Cozens splits vs southpaws. A .307/.391/.677 hitter vs righties, he morphs into Freddy Galvis when a lefty is on the mound, slashing .204/286/.387. Cozens has certainly made improvements this season, but he does come with risk; and even if he’s only a 15/15 threat with some split issues, he’s worth a spot in your minors in dynasties where 100-150 prospects are owned.

 

 

Bradley Zimmer, OF Columbus Clippers (Indians AAA): After an uneven first three months Zimmer has been locked in since July 1st; slashing .336/.432/.469 with 3 homers and 8 steals. The most impressive part of his current run is how he’s taken to AAA pitching upon promotion to Columbus. Zimmer is slashing .357/.449/.476. through his first 50 AAA plate appearances, and looks like he could be a callup in the final two months, particularly if this continues. Abraham Almonte can’t hold B-Rad Zim-Zim.

 

Lewis Brinson, OF Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers AAA): The Milwaukee farm system is stacked to the brim with intriguing prospects for fantasy. Following the Lucroy trade Brinson may now be chief among them. Following a shoulder injury in mid-June, Brinson was on the DL until July 1st. Since returning he’s been on a tear slashing .301/.329/.497 with 5 homers and 8 steals. Over that stretch he’s moved from AA to AAA, and been traded away from the only organization he’s ever known. Doesn’t seem to be affecting Brinson, as he’s taken nicely to his new generous home in Colorado Springs. Looks like the buy low window is slamming shut.

 

Thomas Szapucki, LHP Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets lo-A): The 2015 5th round pick out of William T. Dwyer HS in West Palm Beach Florida, has been absolutely filthy. After throwing just 2.1 innings in 2015, he made his 8th start of the season last night for lo-A Brooklyn and struck out 11 batters in 5.1 innings. He’s now averaging a K/9 of 14.6, and keeping batters off balance with a deceptive lefty 3/4 delivery. He offers a plus fastball that can touch 95, and mixes it with a curveball he commands well in and out of the zone, and a developing change. Take a peek at Szapucki right here. My Podcast co-host Michael Halpern is a big fan, and even mentioned him in his rundown over on ImaginaryBrickWall.com last Monday.

 

Max Wotell, LHP Billings Mustangs (Reds hi-A): The other player going the Reds way in the Jay Bruce trade, Wotell is yet another lefty arm from the Mets system. Now that the formalities are out of the way let’s discuss what makes Wotell unique. His moonwalk delivery. Seriously that’s a really odd sidestep. It’s cause for a great deal of inconsistency when it comes to repeating his delivery, and it’s manifested in high walk rates. After working exclusively as a reliever last season Wotell has made the jump to the rotation this year. His best pitch is his slider which grades anywhere from above average to plus, he also features an average low-90’s fastball, and a change. We talk about him on the debut of the Prospect Podcast in fact.

 

Anthony Alford, Dunedin Blue Jays (Blue Jays hi-A): After really dropping off of many mid-season top 100 lists, the super athletic Alford looks to be rounding into form. An early season knee injury delayed the beginning of his season, and bad results followed upon his return. After showing signs of life in July (.255/.366/.457 with 3 homers and 8 steals), the former college football player has been on fire in August. Over the last two weeks Alford is slashing .362/.464/.702 with 14 runs, 2 homers, and 2 steals. The ceiling has always been enticing, and he knows how to take a walk, but he comes with a great deal of risk. He strikes out too much, and doesn’t make enough hard contact. While his hot streak is nice he’s a player that needs to make a push for a promotion to AA New Hampshire by the end of this season.

 

Francis Martes, RHP Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros AA): Another great start on Tuesday from the Astros top pitching prospect as he went 6.1 innings striking out 11 against the Padres AA affiliate San Antonio. After a rough first month of the season Martes has been everything he was billed to be. In fact if you remove April, his stat line looks like this; 14 starts 82 innings, 9.88 K/9, 3.29 Bb/9, .33 HR/9, 1.18 WHIP, and a .217 BAA. That’s all with a .301 BABIP, and 73.1% left on base rate.

 

Tyler Beede, RHP Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA): Young Beedah!!! I wonder if J.B. asks me about him again when he stops by the Prospect Podcast this week. BTW now that Benintendi is in the majors I’m going to just plug the pod at an alarming rate. Following the trade of Phil Bickford, Beede returns to his place as the Giants top pitching prospect. Over the last few months the former Vanderbilt star has regained his mid 90’s fastball and his swing and miss stuff. He had an up and down month in July, but the numbers over his last 10 starts are excellent 2.69 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 3.5 Bb/9, and .231 BAA. He’s sacrificed some control to add the velocity and strikeout part of his game back but it seems like a fair trade off.

 

Francisco Mejia, C Lynchburg Hillcats (Indians hi-A): The 20 year old catcher that was the centerpiece of deal that nearly netted the Indians Jonathan Lucroy. I’ll keep this one short and sweet because I’ve talked about him a lot lately, he extended his hitting streak to 47 games on Friday night. This kid is something special, and definitely someone to target in dynasty.

 

T.J. Friedl, OF Reds: Signed for $735,000 shattering the previous signing bonus for an undrafted college player. He’s had quite a unique rise from walk on player at Nevada to leadoff hitter and starting leftfielder for the US national team. He’s more of a great story than a future fantasy star, but I like to bring those to your attention too. He projects as a low power small ball player with bast stealing and bunting ability. So Billy Burns type I guess.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RalphLifshitzbb and check out the Razzball Prospect Podcast

 
  1. Noam says:
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    Hey Ralph, quick question.

    CBS 15 team dynasty – Roto – 6X6 – Weekly lineups
    Categories with my points — out of a possible 14:

    (R, HR, SB, RBI, AVG, OPS
    14 14 3 14 7 13
    INN, QS+W-L, K, SV+HD, ERA, WHIP)
    12 13 3 9 13 12

    I’m in first place. I want to win this year. I’d like to solidify my team. As you can see my weakest areas are SBs and Ks, but I dealt for Villar to help with SBs. I’m exploring a deal for Hamels. What do you think of this deal?

    My Brendon Rodgers + Patrick Corbin for Cole Hamels — is that too much for him?

    This is my staff:
    Can start 9 pitchers/week
    P – Carlos Carrasco, P – Taijuan Walker, P – Kyle Hendricks, P – JA Happ, P – Josh Tomlin, P – Gerrit Cole P – J. Hellickson P – Jeurys Familia, P – K. Herrera
    BN: J. Lamb, P. Corbin, S. Romo, Tanner Roark,
    DL: Danny Salazar, H. Ryu, S. Romo

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Noam: It’s not a great price, but if you’re looking to win next year it’s a worthy move. Corbin is whatever but Rodgers is nice future piece. One of those risks you take to win though.

  2. Wild Thing says:
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    Hi Ralph,

    Need your help again with prospects in my 12 team $260 H2H salary cap league where prospects are $1 in the first two years after you add them to your team and $5 each year of their contract. So a $1 player signed for 3 years would be $16 each year.

    My team is 12-7 and I’m playoff bound with no real needs or weaknesses so I want to max out my bench with prospects. We keep 7 guys on our bench and mine is:

    Bregman $1
    Moncada $11
    Meadows $1
    Benintendi $1
    Giolito $6
    Devers $1
    Robles $1

    All these guys don’t have to be signed until March 2018.

    My main question is do I:

    A) keep Robles and Devers hoping they rake their way through the minors and get called up late next season.

    Or

    B) drop either one or both of Robles and Devers for someone else? These guys are on my waiver wire:

    Bradley Zimmer
    Lewis Brinson
    Jose De Leon
    Joe Musgrave

    I’m a sox fan who likes Devers a lot and Robles seems like he’s the next great 5 tool player. But are these guys too far away? I’m leaning towards holding Devers and Robles because I don’t have to sign these guys until 2018 and my other prospects are close/in the majors now.

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Wild Thing: I’d hold, though a Devers for Zimmer swap is inticing.

      • Wild Thing says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        Oh wait what about this?

        I could drop or trade Naquin and pick up Zimmer and keep Devers. That would mean starting Benintendi instead of Naquin rest of season though. Maybe do that instead?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Wild Thing: I wouldn’t drop Naquin

  3. Wild Thing says:
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    What if I drop Naquin (also $1) for zimmer and keep Devers?

    By the way, you do AWESOME work. Thanks!

    • Wild Thing says:
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      @Wild Thing:

      One more player I just realized is out there. Brendan Rodgers. I don’t needn’t a SS or 2B but maybe he is better than zimmer just for trade value? Maybe not since zimmer is closer to call up.

      Also are you worried zimmer can’t hit lefties?

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Wild Thing: I still like Zimmer for Devers

  4. Nice work here Ralphie-boy! I’m also liking what I’ve been seeing from Brinson…

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Wake Up: Yeah he’s looked like he’s finally back healthy. Gotta like that power/speed upside.

  5. James T Kirk says:
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    Is Mejia a good enough hitting catcher that Cleveland would use him at first or dh on days he isn’t catching?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @James T Kirk: The way he looks right now, yes. He’s still probably 2 years away though.

  6. Chud says:
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    Ralph- thanks for the updates! Always a great read. Keeper closer ? For u. I know closers r a tough group to project but would u go Cam Bedrosian or Thornburg for that closer spot?

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Chud: Bedrosian. He looks like a beast. I mean absolutely filthy.

  7. Steve says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    What do you think of Benintendi’s first few games?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Steve: He’s been okay looked good on Wednesday. He hasn’t been Bregman lost, who just happens to break out last night. 9 at bats not much you can learn from that.

  8. James says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    Do you expect De Leon to be called up soon? It’s disappointing the Dodgers went with Stripling for the start yesterday.

    Also, who do you like ROS, Eugenio Suarez or Brad Miller?

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @James: looks like it’s not what they’re looking to do. Too bad for us!

      Miller, he’s eligible all over the place.

  9. J-FOH says:
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    Francisco Muuuuuuuahija! Love that kid

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @J-FOH: Jack Full of Mejia!!!

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: Well I do own him in two leagues

  10. Schnoo says:
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    How would you rank the following players? Benintendi, Frazier, Zimmer, Brinson. How does Buxton compare to that group?

    Likely looking ahead for next year, although have a slight shot at the last playoff spot. I’ve been holding Buxton for a couple years, picked up Benintendi earlier this year, and Frazier/Zimmer/Brinson are still on the wire.

    • Schnoo says:
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      @Schnoo: Forgot to mention Meadows is another near-term option available. Robles is too but for this league, he’ll likely be available into next year until he’s a little closer to the bigs.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Schnoo: Benintendi, Frazier, Zimmer, Brinson, Meadows, I’m staying away from Buxton. Unless you can get him cheap.

      Robles is the best of that group.

  11. AU! says:
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    Grey, can you answer a trade question? It is a 12 team standard h2h dynasty. I got offered Altuve/Greg Bird/Ahmed Rosario/James Kaprielian for my Margot/Robles/Moncada/Giolito. Altuve is the one I am after obviously, but is it worth it to give up 4 stud prospects? What do you think?

    • me and myself says:
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      @AU!: also, meant to say ralph, not grey.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @me and myself: If it puts you over the top and you’re competing now yes.

  12. Ralph caught a bit of a fangraphs podcast with in the last month or so and they where talking about a catcher from Colorado that they projected to be a stud that might get a call up. Now I can’t figure out which guy it was. They did say he had serious power that would obviously play well in Colorado. I found two catching prospects but know which one they were talking about

    • Oddball Herrera says:
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      @Dnut Eastwood: they were probably talking about Murphy

  13. Saints says:
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    Hay Ralph i have a Trade offer Melky Cabrera vs. Yohander Mendez.
    I’m in a tough Playoff race and can need help in the Outfield but I’m not sure im Mendez is to valuable to trade him here. We have big minor league rosters were Mendez is stashed so roster Spots are not a problem at all.
    I would love to here your Opinion on that one :) Thanks :)

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Saints: If you’re competing and you need this to win. I’d do it.

  14. Robert the Bruce says:
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    Ralph! love the column.

    I am in a keeper league that has some strange rules (16 teams, 30 man rosters, everyone plays, no bench) Keep 15 per year. but the minors are really really shallow only 5 per team. Only way to get minors players is to claim someone that got called up during the year on waivers or to draft them in the minor league portion.

    Right now about the top 50 prospects in the minors are kept… any fast risers this year that you would target as a claim in september callups? do you think Willy Adames will make an appearence in the majors this year?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Robert the Bruce: Adames won’t, but you should see someone like Judge, Gurriel, Adalberto Mejia could make some starts for the Twins, Vogelbach in Seattle, Clint Frazier could maybe get called up for a couple games if he hits in AAA. Tom Murphy from Colorado. The one I’d be most excited for, if it were to happen, is Bradley Zimmer.

      JP Crawford could get a call up too

  15. Derrick says:
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    Ralph, this TJ Friedl story is kinda amazing. I’ve seen some publications have him ranked as a 2nd round talent in 2017. How in the hell did the Reds sign him as an undrafted FA? He hit over .400 at Nevada! Seriously, what in the world happened here?

    BTW, Friedl reached base 7 times in his first 7 AB’s @ Billings.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Derrick: Hit two homers too! I’m trying to figure it out too. I guess because he redshirted his Sophmore year he was draft eligible and no one took him assuming he’d go back to school. Then he won the starting LF job with the national team.

  16. Mtrigga says:
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    Would you trade Gallo to get Renfroe in a keeper league? Salaries increase once a player loses prospect status and Gallo is most likely going to lose his prospect status this year (>130ABS – he is at 122abs). Assuming Renfroe does not go above 130abs this year then I will get another year to hold Renfroe compared to Gallo. It doesnt sound like they are going to call Renfroe up from what I’m hearing. Thoughts??

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Mtrigga: If Gallo losing eligibility hurts your ability to compete sure. On a straight up trade level I like Gallo a lot more than Renfroe, but I can see why you’d do it.

  17. Nightpandas says:
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    Congrats on the podcast bro…had a listen today…big bump for Brinson for 2017? Got offered him and Obrien for Velasquez . My other keepers are Rizzo Dozier Correa Mazara Dahl Greinke And then 5 of Sal Perez, Matz, Harvey, W Davis, Pujols, Gurriel, Velasquez (or Brinson)

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Nightpandas: I’d make that deal, don’t give a rats ass about OB but I love turning a starter with some elbow red flags and control issues into a huge upside hitter.

      • Nightpandas says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: thanks Ralph took Obrien out of the deal and got a third round pick instead (for a 7th)

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