Unless you’re a greasy teenager or the warden of Shawshank Penitentiary breakouts are good. Particularly when we’re talking about athletes, and even more so when we’re talking about up and coming athletes. Heck, I can still remember when I first saw young Ariel Winter blossom from younger sister on Modern Family to busty sexpot. After writing that last sentence I feel like I’m ghostwriting Tehol’s posts again. Who knows maybe I am, throw in a Dom Brown reference and a couple of lords and BOOM you got a Tehol post. That’s not why we’re here though. No we’re here to talk about the breakout stars of the minor leagues. The guys jumping up, and in some cases, into the top 100. It’s a great time to review this for a few reasons. Chief among them is three and a half months of data to crunch. Not to mention a plethora of updated top 100 have hit the streets. So who am I lovin, who do I want to be huggin? Let’s get into it.
Eloy Jimenez, OF Cubs (South Bend A): If you watched the futures game you should be aware of three things, Alex Bregman is good, Yoan Moncada is better, and Eloy Jimenez ain’t far off. Yes I just used ain’t in a sentence. Wha wha what? N.O.R.E! Anyway, Jimenez is my top breakout guy, and I discuss as much in my first weekly Fantasy Prospect Podcast I’m doing with Michael Halpern of Imaginary Brick Wall (check it out NOW!!!). Jimenez is hitting for power, average, and stealing bases. He hit a bomb in the 9th inning of the Futures Game, and also made an absolutely beautiful catch in the outfield. This season he’s slashing .331/.370/.520 at Class A South Bend, and at just 19 he looks like the next big Cubs prospect. He’s big at 6’4 205 lbs with a quick right handed swing, with enough power and speed to be a future 20/10 threat. As the title suggests Eloy is reaching the rarified air of single name recognition among us prospect hounds. Woof!
Francisco Mejia, C Indians (Lynchburg A+): Â When any player in the low minors gains .220 OPS points year over year you take notice. When it’s a 20 year old catcher that does it, you go crazy and rank that guy in your top 50ish or so prospects. That’s the case with Mejia as he’s gone from slashing .243/.324/.345 in 2015 with class A Lake County to slashing .345/.373/.526 across two levels this season. He’s still just 20 but is in the midst of a 36 game hitting streak, not bad for a guy off most everyone’s radar just a few months ago.
Dylan Cozens, OF Phillies (Reading AA):Who doesn’t want a 6’6 monster with a tasty power/speed combo in their minors? If the answer is no, I’d gladly trade you all shares of Chad Pinder. After a decent season in 2015 that saw him go from rookie ball to AA Reading, Cozens has exploded this year hitting 25 bombs to date to go with 17 steals. The outfielder has always had some power but topped out at 16 with class A Lakewood back in 2014. He’s paired with soon to be discussed Rhys Hoskins to form the most powerful 1-2 combo in all of the minors. The one red flag with the developing power is that only 5 of Cozens homers have come outside the power aiding confines of Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium. Regardless, when someone puts up a 80/25/82/17/.286 line it’s tough to ignore. The speed is for real, shown by the 17 for 18 success rate this season.
Rhys Hoskins, 1BÂ Phillies (Reading AA):Â The masher in the dynamic Reading duo, Hoskins is your prototypical slow footed first baseman. The former 5th rounder from Cal State Sacramento showed signs of his breakout last year across two levels of A ball, but was old for the level so his .319/.395/.518 fell on deaf ears. This season however Hoskins has continued the mashing at AA Reading. There’s still some questions, particularly now that he’s struggled in July, but there’s no denying the power and approach.
Christin Stewart, OF Tigers (Lakeland A+): This one should be less of a surprise, because quite frankly Stewart was a first rounder just last season. Not sure anyone but the Tigers Brass envisioned he’d hit the notoriously pitching heavy Florida State league like Barry Bonds in his most chemically induced state. Through 676 professional plate appearances Stewart has slashed .269/.389/.516 with 30 homers, 90 runs scored, and 99 rbi’s. Not too shabby for a 22 year old in his first 158 games. There is some risk as he’s striking out 25% of the time, but it’s balanced by an absurd 17.8% Bb rate.
Josh Ockimey, 1B Red Sox (Greenville A): Here’s my Boston homer pick for the week, much like most of these guys I’ve been beating the drum on them for months. So much of this post is vindication or what we like to call in the sales world, account rounding. Ockimey has hit A ball with a vengeance slashing .260/.390/.493, the average is obviously barely acceptable, but I’m not interested in Ockimey to boost my average. It’s for the power and the on base skills, particularly in a system starving for first base prospects after Sam Travis went all Derrick Rose on his knee. Much like Stewart, Ockimey balances a 25% K rate with a, nearly identical to Stewart, 17.7% Bb rate. One of the other big red flags with Ockimey is his pull happy approach, and difficulty when facing southpaws. If he can learn to hit to all fields, and raise his .211 average vs southpaws he’s got a shot at fantasy stardom. He draws a lot of Ryan Howard comparisons, but I wonder how much of that is his Philly roots. Let’s just hope in 8-9 years the Red Sox don’t burden themselves with a bad contract. I’ll take Ryan Howard-lite prior to that point.
Travis Demeritte, 2B Rangers (High Desert A+): I’ve been apprehensive about touting Demeritte all season, but it’s tough to ignore a 22 homer-12 steal season from a middle infielder. The reasons I’ve been apprehensive are simple, his PED suspension last season, and his whopping 33% K rate. He has contact issues for sure, but the kind of upside that has seen him rocket into top 100 conversations. It will be interesting to see what he does upon promotion to AA Frisco, and out of the very power friendly California League. Damn, does the Rangers system have power.
Adalberto Mejia, LHP Giants (Sacramento AAA): Damn do I love me some lefties, in almost all of my teams I hoard lefty arms the way your crazy uncle hoards soup cans for the coming apocalypse. Problem is I shook off Mejia in all my leagues and own zero shares. He’s been a big target of a couple of my colleagues in J-FOH and Yes Cheese in a few of our leagues. He’s done nothing but destroy the upper minors this season putting up a 2.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9 across AA and AAA. He pairs a four seamer that touches 95, with a slider that gets swings and misses, with an above average change. Could end up sneaking into the majors at some point this season as a spot starter or for some pen help. Got to love any arm coming from the Giants farm system, as they’ve had a pretty solid track record of graduating some good ones.
Chris Paddack, RHP Padres (Fort Wayne A): When the 2016 in season trades made by A.J. Preller are discussed in 4-5 years it might be the Fernando Rodney trade and not the Drew Pomeranz trade that’s discussed as the real jewel. Not because Paddack will be better than Espinoza one day, but because they stole a high ceiling pitching prospect for ancient Fernando Rodney. I’ve wrote about Paddack a lot and the 14.2 SO/W might be all I have to bring up.
Luke Weaver, RHP Cardinals (Springfield AA): After a nice full year in professional ball in 2015 for Weaver he was on my radar, but he seemed a bit bring. After being assigned to AA Springfield to start the season that’s all changed. He’s more or less the prospect pitching version of Ariel Winter, only his breasts are smaller. Boy, am I perverted today. Any who, we’ve got the kind of package that could make Grey’s mustache sweat, no not Giancarlo in a tight fitting thong (wow Tehol again!), but a K/9 of 10.6 to a Bb/9 of 1.3. The k’s have really jumped this going from a respectable 7.5 in the Florida league to what we have this year. He’s always had pinpoint control, and looks to be working his way up into top 20 prospect pitcher territory.
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