It’s easy to get lost in the scouting reports and tool grades from a million different resources. Buying too heavily into projection over production. I get caught up in it too, I Prospector Ralph am no scout. I’m one part Hemmingway, one part James Frey, blended heavily with an overly-enthusiastic approach to minor leaguers. In other words I’m a really, really fun minor league enthusiast. Saturday night at the Lifshitz house is like The Tunnel in its hey day. Let me tell you! (Queue the music, apply Timbos with the finest Polo swag) We have sleeping kids, lots of televised baseball, coffee, a baby named after a major leaguer learning to walk, then there’s a ruggedly handsome, but slightly dim witted looking gentleman typing away on his phone and laptop. Feverishly switching screens between gulps of java. That’s me and I’m combing through mounds of statistics and figuring out which ones I should report and which I should ignore. Why you ask? Well for this post where I look at 4-5+ of the minor league leaders in a handful of fantasy relevant categories. Most of it’s age based bias, if the leader is 28 in a particular category but number 3 is 21, I’m taking that young meat. Blah, blah, blah, blah, let’s get into it.
MiLB Hitting Leaders
Rhys Hoskins, 1B Phillies (AA) – (20) You can tell that a place is a good hitting environment when the top two home run hitters across every level are on the same team. Hoskins hit well last year (.319/.395/.518, 17 homers, 90 RBI) across two levels of A ball, and hasn’t slowed at AA. At the moment his ISO sits at .269, Reading aided or not, the power looks to be real.
Dylan Cozens, OF Phillies (AA) – (19) The second Reading Fighting Phillie on the list, Cozens is an interesting prospect with massive size (6’6) and athletic ability (19 homers/13 steals). He’s still quite raw (29.9% K%), but he has a very impactful skill set for fantasy.
Travis Demeritte, 2B Rangers (A+) – (19) – A former first round pick of the Rangers, Demeritte is regaining his prospect status as he rebounds from a tough 2015 that included a PED suspension. So far this year he’s popping homers at the highest rate of any middle infidel in the minors.
Matt Chapman, 3B Athletics (AA) – (17) – Coming into the season Chapman looked like a surefire promotion at some point in the year. Fast forward a few months and the emergence of Ryon Healy and Danny Valencia could delay his arrival in Oakland until next year. He’s continued to show the power he displayed at hi-A Stockton, but has struggled mightily with the whiffs (32.6%). His all-around game is good enough that he should see promotion to AAA Nashville at some point, probably following Healy’s promotion.
Christin Stewart, OF Tigers (A+) – (17) – A power-hitting left fielder Stewart looks like the type of hitter that will eventually be a .250, 25 homer, 75-80 RBI player. Though he’ll gain extra value in .OBP leagues due to his high walk rate. Should see AA soon, and maybe Detroit at some point early next season.
Ryan Cordell, OF Rangers (AA) – (15) – Another Rangers outfield prospect, Cordell has taken longer to marinate than others at 24, but he offers a true 20/20 skillset. The 2013 11th round pick is having his best year as a pro at AA Frisco, after struggling there last year upon promotion. The flaws are obvious, he doesn’t walk quite enough and there have been contact issues in the past. His current .291 batting average is slightly inflated by a .346 Babip, though it’s not that far off from his career mark in the minors of .281.
Ryon Healy, 3B Athletics (AA/AAA) – (1.004) – This year’s out of nowhere high minors star has raked across two levels, and looks to be on the cusp of the big leagues. He’s flashed potential in the past, but this season he’s destroying all pitching he’s facing.
Ian Rice, C/DH Cubs (Lo-A, A) – (1.004) – A 29th round pick in the 2015 draft, Rice looks like a potential diamond in the rough for the stocked Cubs system. He was recently promoted to hi-A Myrtle Beach, should be interesting to see what he does against better competition.
Joey Gallo, 1B/3B/OF Rangers (AAA) – (.973) – We all know plenty about Gallo. His position flexibility could eventually get him into the lineup everyday, but also provide owners with greater value. Think about it, a 30 homer run hitter with the ability to fill both corner spots or an outfield spot on any given day. That is a dangerous weapon. Yes, his OBP is higher than Alex Bregman’s, I know shocking, but not really.
Josh Ockimey, 1B Red Sox (A) – (.961) – One of my 30 team leagues has a mid-year prospect auction. This is the only time we’re allowed to add unowned MiLB players outside of the first year player draft in February. I put in a sizeable bid for Ockimey, he’s hitting for power and getting on base, not much more you can ask for from a corner man no?
Yoan Moncada, 2B Red Sox (A+/AA) – (36) – The biggest name in the minor leagues has feasted on the low minors, and has not slowed down 4 games into his AA promotion. The speed is real, all the other parts of his tool set ain’t too shabby either, but the speed is by far the most advanced at the moment.
Yefri Perez, OF Marlins (AA) – (36) _ An older minor, but sometimes speedy SAGNOF types can come from the damnedest of places. Throughout a long and winding career path, Perez has always flashed speed, particularly last year in a 71 steal effort. So far this year he’s tied for the lead, playing all 68 games at AA Jacksonville. An older spec at 25, but could be a good source of steals in a year or two in deeper dynasty leagues.
Greg Allen, OF Indians (A+) – (35) – 2014 6th round pick out of San Diego State, Allen has 111 steals through 249 minor league games. He’s walking at a high rate this year, and looks on pace to swipe 50-60 bags with a .400 OBP. Looks like a future leadoff man with minimal pop, like Billy Burns with 8 homer power.
Eric Jenkins, OF Rangers (A) – (33) – The youngest player featured in today’s post, Jenkins is a raw athletic centerfielder with off the charts speed. A 2015 second round prep pick, Jenkins should develop a 15/30 skill set if he reaches his ceiling.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF Astros (AA) – (29) – Another true SAGNOF play, Hernandez is a fringy outfield prospect with little buzz, but some very nice numbers in 2016. He’s the type of player this post is all about, he didn’t make Baseball America’s annual bible that features over 900 players. So far this year he’s slashing .305/.386/.439 with 6 homers, to go with 29 steals in 40 attempts.All the while doing his dirt from the leadoff spot in the Hooks order. If you’re in a dynasty where 200+ minors are owned, he’s worth a flier.
Andrew Stevenson, OF Nationals (A+) – (26) – Spoke about Andrew Stevenson a few weeks ago, everything I said there still holds true. Not a lot of power, but a bunch of speed, played college ball at LSU with Alex Bregman.
Kyle Tucker, OF Astros (A) – (25) – I guess I didn’t really know that Tucker had this sort of speed. Last year’s 5th overall selection out of H.B. Plant High School in Tampa is raw, but he knows how to make contact (.302 BA), and get on base (.372 OBP). The power is still coming along though (.410).
Bb% (minimum 120 plate appearances)
Joey Gallo, 1B/3B/OF Rangers (AAA) – (18.2%) – See above
Derek Fisher, OF Astros (AA) – (18.2%) – One of my favorite minor league hitters, Fisher offers a 20/20 skill-set with ability to get on base at a .400 clip. One of the least discussed potential fantasy stars in the minors. The 25% K rate isn’t great, but it’s not a killer either. Well, as long as it doesn’t slip. Then again patient hitters typically strikeout more.
Kevin Padlo, 3B Rays (A) – (17.4%) – Remember this charming buck from the Rockies farm system last season? Well following the trade to the Rays he hasn’t stopped hitting homers and getting on base, too bad his average is just above the Mendoza line. He’s still young at just 19.
Bryan Hudson, OF Red Sox (A+) – (17.3%) – No not the Cubs pitcher the other Bryan Hudson, this Bry-Hud is a low minors outfielder that gets on base, steals bases, and does little else. Only worth a flier in leagues where 500+ minors are owned.
MiLB Pitching Leaders
FIP (Minimum 50 innings)
Luke Leftwich, RHP Phillies (A) – 1.86 – The 2015 7th rounder from Wofford College in South Cack-a-lack, is having a phenomenal year in Class A Lakewood. The best FIP in the minors, and an 11.7 K/9 will do that.
Phil Bickford, RHP Giants (A/A+) – 2.23 – Last year’s first round pick looks to be following in the footsteps of other homegrown Giants pitchers. He’s been excellent as he approaches 100 total professional innings.
Jordan Yamamoto, RHP Brewers (A) – 2.31 – The Hawaiian native was a 12th round pick out of St. Louis High in Honolulu two years ago, and has impressed this year with good control (2.0 Bb/9) and plus strikeout stuff (9.4 K/9).
K/9 (minimum 50 innings pitched)
Albert Abreu, RHP Astros (A) – 12.45 – The 20 year old righty is getting punchouts at an elevated rate, but walks far too many batters.
Sandy Alcantara, RHP Cardinals (A) – 12.38 – Another young pitcher with nasty swing and miss stuff who’s experiencing some struggles at A. Much like the aforementioned Abreu, despite his struggles his ceiling is sky high.
Marcos Diplan, RHP Brewers (A) – 12.29 – Some have said that Diplan, and not Josh Hader is the jewel of the Brewers system. It’s easy to see why when looking at the 19 year old righties numbers. Could be this year’s Anderson Espinoza, comparable in size and stuff.
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP Nationals (AA) – 11.85 – One of the hottest pitchers in the minors over the last month, in Lopez’s last 5 starts he’s the proud owner of a 16.13 K/9 to a 1.05 Bb/9. Often the forgotten man behind Lucas Giolito in Nats pitching prospects.
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