There’s admittedly a special place in my heart for left-handed pitchers already, but I’m falling hard for Blake Snell. The 22-year-old southpaw ranked 9th in my Rays Top 10 prospects this offseason. Here’s what I said there: “His arsenal features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, plus slider, and plus changeup. His ceiling is more of a mid-rotation starter, but in deep leagues he’s a prospect worth checking in on just in case he figures out his control and takes another step forward. He will face a bigger challenge in 2015 when he gets his feet wet in Double-A.” His feet are officially wet. After just four games in High-A, Snell was promoted to Double-A Montgomery and made his first start Friday night. He responded with six scoreless innings, striking out eight while allowing just one hit and one walk. On the season, Snell has now pitched 27 innings and has yet to allow a run. He has struck out 35 batters and opponents are hitting just .124 off him. If you’re in a deeper dynasty format with some minor league slots to fill, I’d be getting on the Snell train. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues…
See? The Ryan Hanigan voodoo dolls paid off! Prior to his major league debut, Swihart had been tearing up Triple-A – hitting .338/.392/.382 with Pawtucket. The Sox will likely give him plenty of playing time, and he’s an add in any format where you need a catcher. There’s 15-20 homer power and a .280 average lurking in his bat.
Also called up this week, Folty seems like a hot “do I add him?” guy. Here’s what I wrote about him this offseason: “Foltynewicz becomes one of the top arms in the Braves’ system after the Gattis trade and he’s close to the majors. The righty’s bread and butter is a double-plus fastball. He hits triple digits with his heater and he has nice strikeout potential thanks to a solid breaking ball. How everything comes together for him as a starter is still up in the air, but the Braves are a good landing place for a young pitcher. Foltynewicz’s stuff is exciting, but he’s probably still more of a #3 starter ceiling with a power reliever floor.”
It took until late last night for Bell to hit his first home run, but he’s done just about everything else right to start the 2015 season. Through 18 games, Bell has tallied three doubles, two triples, and three steals while hitting .373. He has also walked more than he’s struck out, posting a .434 OBP. Bell started his career as a right-fielder, but he’s playing almost exclusively at first base this year. The change in position could speed up his arrival in Pittsburgh, where they are obviously loaded in the outfield already.
Drafted just last year, Schwarber hasn’t missed a beat with a hot start in the Southern League. Playing mostly catcher (11 games) and DH (5 games), the 22-year-old has clubbed five homers and hit .362 in his first 74 plate appearances. It seems like the Cubs want to give catching a fair shot, which could slow down his ETA. His stick will play in fantasy regardless of his position on the diamond.
Hultzen returned to the mound this week after a 20-month layoff due to shoulder problems. The 25-year-old southpaw threw 3.1 innings and struck out four. Usually shoulder injuries are a death sentence for pitchers, so it’s honestly nice to see him back. It’s tough to recommend buying for fantasy purposes until we see more results on the field though.
Difo went apeshizz in High-A to start the year and earned a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg this week after just 19 games. On the season he’s slashing .321/.382/.543 with three homers, nine doubles, and four steals. Middle infield prospects who hit like this make me feel things.
Don’t look now but the Astros are playing prettay, prettay good baseball right now. Down on the farm things are going well too with top prospect Carlos Correa destroying Double-A. But tucked away in the California League is another good prospect in Brett Philllips. He ranked #2 in my Astros Top 10, and has gotten off to the great start I expected in a launching pad like Lancaster. Through his first 21 games, the 20-year-old is hitting .337/.374/.616 with four homers, six doubles, and three triples. Look for him to tear it up some more early on before facing a tougher test in Double-A later this year.
You know how the Cubs have like a half dozen middle infielders? Well, they have yet another one cooking in A-ball this season and he’s got one of my favorite names to boot. Playing in his first full season, Torres is currently ranked fourth in batting average in the Midwest League (.355). Oh and he’s 18 years old, so about four years younger than the three guys ahead of him on that leaderboard. He’s also stolen seven bags in eight attempts. If you play in a deep dynasty league and Torres is available, you know what to do.