There are just two divisions left to cover in our breakout prospects series. These are players who “broke out” statistically in 2015 and were either ranked in the bottom half of their team’s preseason top ten list or didn’t make their team’s list at all. Some of these names will look familiar and have already been scooped up in many dynasty formats. Others may still be flying low enough that their big performances have gone undetected. Today we’ll look at five breakout prospects from the NL Central.
|Amir Garrett, LHP | CIN||Age: 23||ETA: 2017|
You might remember Garrett from this year’s Futures Game. The two-sport star is now focusing only on baseball, and it’s paying off on the mound. With the move to High-A in 2015, Garrett lowered his earned run average by a full run while maintaining his walk and strikeout rates from the previous season. One of the biggest improvements this year came in the home run department. Garrett allowed just 0.3 homers per nine after posting marks of 0.6 and 0.7 in 2013 and 2014 respectively. While I’d normally look at a 23-year-old in High-A and say he’s a little on the old side, in Garrett’s case he’s a baby to baseball so you have to take his age with a grain of salt and instead focus on his development.
|Willson Contreras, C | CHC||Age: 23||ETA: 2017|
So this is interesting. Obviously Schwarber beat Contreras to the majors, but Contreras might actually be the better catcher defensively, and this year he proved he’s a solid hitter as well. He walked almost as much as he struck out, and that’s with the jump to Double-A and facing better stuff. He led the Southern League in batting average and finished second in both on-base percentage and doubles. I’d scoop him up if you need a pure catching prospect on your dynasty roster and missed the boat on somebody like Nottingham.
|Charlie Tilson, OF | STL||Age: 22||ETA: 2016|
Tilson ranked ninth on my list coming into the 2015 season. In that blurb I mentioned a good year in Double-A would really boost his value, and that’s exactly what happened. In an organization that seems to do just about everything right, they have another solid outfielder in Tilson. His biggest fantasy asset is his speed, and after stealing no more than 15 in each of the three previous seasons, the 22-year-old busted out for 46 swipes with Double-A Springfield. There’s a chance Tilson could see time in the majors in 2016, but a full season with Triple-A Memphis wouldn’t shock me either.
|Max Moroff, 2B | PIT||Age: 22||ETA: 2017|
Moroff is a switch-hitting second baseman who fields his position well (he moved over from short). He couldn’t hit over .245 in two seasons of A-ball, but with Altoona this year he bumped his average all the way up to .293 while also cutting his strikeout rate from 2014 by about 6%. Alen Hanson is ahead of him on the depth chart at the keystone, but this year’s breakout was impressive as the jump to Double-A is typically a tough one for hitters. He’s still Moroff a deep league play with no standout offensive tools. See what I did there? Mike’s still bringing it hard on September 27th because Mike cares about you. Yes you, the one in the sweatpants.
|Jorge Lopez, RHP | MIL||Age: 22||ETA: 2016|
The Brew Crew took Lopez in the second round back in 2011, but it wasn’t until this year that he really found another gear. After posting four straight seasons of a 4.50 or higher earned run average, things came together against tougher competition in the Southern League, where Lopez finished second in ERA and struck out almost a batter per inning. You won’t find scouting reports with mention of multiple plus pitches, but Lopez worked his heater 92-95 in games this year and there’s still mid-rotation potential. He induces a lot of ground balls (54% rate) which should help him survive in Miller Park.