We might be standing on the precipice of a seemingly non-stop string of Braves hurlers to emerge from their system. We’ve seen bits and pieces of Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint, and Kolby Allard. Both 2017 first rounder Kyle Wright and my favorite Braves arm, Bryse Wilson, are at AAA. While another rotation worth of arms stew below; players like Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller, Joey Wentz, Huascar Ynoa, Freddy Tarnok, Etc. There’s reinforcements coming, and Bryse Wilson, after last night’s performance, might be squarely on the callup radar. In his third AAA start Wilson went 8 scoreless innings, allowing  1 hit, walking none, and striking out 13 batters, facing the minimum amount of batters for a 99 gamescore. A few weeks ago I discussed Wilson’s transition from a two-seam fastball to a four-seamer, and the subsequent results following a rough stretch early in AA. There’s obviously a great deal of credit that goes to the Braves staff, but ultimately it’s on the player. The fact that his transition was so swift and seamless, speaks to the intangibles of that prospect. While it’s somewhat unlikely, seeing Wilson in the bigs for some pen work or a few spot starts wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Can we talk about a forgotten prospect with an 80 grade name? Rowdy Tellez fell off the prospect map following a really rough 2017. Many of the questions surrounding Tellez’s hit tool left believers like myself eating crow. At this point our expectations should be in check. In 2018 Rowdy has been solid, but unspectacular at the plate, and limited elsewhere. On the year he’s slashing .275/.347/.443 with 13 homers, and an excellent 15.8% K%. That’s going to be Rowdy’s calling card, if and when he sees the bigs, controlling the strikezone will earn him opportunities to tap into his raw power in games. His patient approach, plus hand eye coordination and raw power give him an outside chance of figuring it all out in a few years. Problem with any of these hit-first bad-body types, where does he play everyday? Throw in some one-sided platoon splits, and you kind of narrow him down to a strong-side platoon DH/1B. Fun name, solid hitter, but a limited future profile.

  • It’s been a lost season for the Astros top prospect, and arguably the best arm in the minors, Forrest Whitley. He returned to the mound Tuesday tossing a couple of scoreless innings. It should take some time for him to make it all the way back, leaving him as a prime candidate for the Arizona Fall League. Rarely do we see starters of that ilk in the AFL. As for the season at hand, I think he gets a few full starts in the month of September, likely in the minors.

  • It’s the weekly Brendan McKay update! Everyone cheer! As I’ve set out to do, I will be updating all of you on the journey of two-way prospect Brendan McKay and his assent through the minors, week after week. It’s been a few good weeks on the pitching front for McKay, who has managed to put together a nice string of appearances dating back to his mid-July return from the disabled list. Prior to Monday’s turn, McKay had allowed just a single run in 5 appearances spanning 18 innings. Over that run he’s had 23 strikeouts to 3 walks, and just 7 hits. In his second longest appearance of the season McKay went 5 innings allowing 2 runs, walking a pair, and striking out 4. Still a solid start from McKay, and it’s a great sign he’s started getting deeper into games. At the plate it’s been more of the same, McKay hit a homer, but went 3-for-17, with a couple of walks and 6 strikeouts. At this point the hitting is peripheral to McKay’s overall value. It’s the nasty lefthanded starter that’s really beginning to emerge.
  • How on earth did the Rays manage to squeeze Shane Baz out of the Pirates as the PTBNL in the Chris Archer deal? A first rounder in 2017, Baz has done nothing to relinquish his prospect stock. The 12th overall pick in last year’s draft is a tall, strong, Texas boy, with a body that draws comps to the White Sox Michael Kopech. His repertoire is deep, particularly for a raw prep arm just a year into his professional career, Baz mixes a fastball that he can ramp up to 98, with some of the highest spin in his draft class. He pairs the heater with two potential plus secondaries in his power curveball, and nasty cutter. He also shows a changeup but it’s behind his trio of other offerings. In many ways Baz defines the high ceiling pitching prospect, big stuff, and little command. The reports from Bristol earlier this year were just that. Moments of brilliance, paired with a lack of feel from pitch to pitch. His lack of command shows itself in his numbers, where despite a solid K% of 26%, his 11% walk rate really leaves something to be desired. I would hold any where I had Baz, and look to add him in the right team construct. There’s a great chance he develops frontline upside in the coming years, but an equal chance that there’s some rough patches too.

  • Let’s talk about the Orioles Ryan Mountcastle for a minute. This season has really been a year of big strides for the 2015 first rounder. Despite missing time early with an injury, Mountcastle has picked up where he left off last year, while showing tremendous strides with his plate approach. A grip and rip guy early in his professional career, Mountcastle is now grinding out at bats and doing a better job of not being fooled by off-speed, and breaking balls early in counts, instead feasting on fastballs when he’s ahead in the count. The swing has always been beautiful, with quick hands, despite a little rotational hitch prior to his load, a big leg kick, and a bat path conducive for driving balls to the gaps, or over the fence. The biggest knock on Mountcastle has been his defense at third, but their are some evaluators that have noted the marked improvement at the hot corner, with many thinking he has a chance to stick there. It’s been a good year for Mountcastle and it would not surprise me if he sees significant big league time in 2019.

  • Due to my late hours, I’ve had the opportunity to watch a lot of Pioneer League ball this summer, catching Orem, Helena, and Alek Thomas and his Missoula teammates. Drafted in the second round out of the Chicago prep ranks, Thomas has hit the ground running early, flashing speed, contact ability, and some over the fence pop. A nice lefty stroke with some natural loft and quick hands make Thomas a big riser for me as we head into the off-season. Cold weather kids with tools are big gambles, but also those with the most untapped potential form class to class. There’s some moving parts to his lefty swing, but it’s an athletic stroke, with a big leg kick that helps him engage his lower half. His hands are lightning quick, driving his bat speed, and allowing him to get to power, despite not being the biggest guy. He’s a real specimen, with room to add some good weight to his frame. As the son of the strength and conditioning coach for the White Sox, it shouldn’t surprise us that Thomas is in such great shape. At the moment Thomas is in my top 20 for FYPD, moving closer and closer to overtaking players like Travis Swaggerty and Seth Beer with limited potential upside. There are some split issues at the moment, as most of his damage has come vs. RHP, but it’s an area he should be able to improve in. With a true five tool skillset, Thomas fits the profile of an athletic major league outfielder with the ability to impact the game with him bat or his legs.

  • Big game from the Mariners first base prospect Evan White. The 2017 first rounder went 4-for-4 last night, with 3 RBI, a pair of runs, and a walk. The bat to ball skills, defense, athleticism, and ability to not be a total zero on the bases have made White a solid prospect, but his lack of power at the first base slot really limits his upside. I think White is a surefire MLB regular, but I wonder how much impact he’ll have in fantasy leagues without at least average game power.
  • A lower level name to keep an eye on is Dodgers teenage shortstop prospect Ronny Brito. Signed back in 2015, it’s taken some time for Brito to get his sea leags in the professional ranks, but he’s done a good job of getting to his power in games this year. He’s an up the middle player with limited speed, but might be able to carve out a niche as a bat first everyday infielder one day. If Brito can tighten up his somewhat raw approach, we could see another step forward from the young pivot.
  • Another of my favorite bats from the most recent draft class is the Royals Kyle Isbel. Promoted to full-season Lexington back in July, through 24 games the former UNLV star is slashing .319/.388/.484 with a pair of homers and 11 steals on 12 attempts. Contact, on base ability, power, and speed from a pretty lefty stroke. What’s not to like?

  • While we’re on the topic of Royals prospects, 2017 first round pick Nick Pratto has had a rude awakening in full-season ball. However, of late the first baseman has begun to finally overcome his struggles. In 14 games in the month of August, Pratto is slashing .321/.368/.509 with two homers. I’ve always been a fan of Pratto’s swing, and despite his struggles I’ve never waned.
  • Speaking of 2017 first rounders on hot streaks, one of the highest upside prep bats from the 2017 class, Austin Beck, has been making some noise of late. Another player scorching in August Beck hasn’t flashed the power/speed sizzle many foresaw, but he’s improved his plate coverage and approach quite a bit. Major strides at the plate for a player with questions surrounding his hit tool. If he can tap into his power/speed ability next year, and pair it with his new-developed approach, Beck could be a big breakout coming in 2019.
  • Throw into the recently promoted bucket the Pirates Travis Swaggerty. Following an appearance in the NYPL all-star game, Swaggerty was given the call to full season ball, joining the West Virginia Power. Decent numbers, .288/.365/.453, 4 HR, 9 steals, pull heavy, 9.5% Bb%. The bad: 25.3% K% isn’t great for an advanced college bat in short season.
  • The Mets top prospect Andres Gimenez has hit well since joining AA Binghamton a month ago. He’s yet to homer, but following last night’s 2-for-5 showing, the young shortstop now has multiple hits in five of his last ten games. The .321/.398/.423 slashline over 21 AA games is highly impressive for a player that won’t turn 20 until September. Gimenez is a green arrow riser in my next Top 500 update.

Follow me on @ProspectJesus and check out the first edition of my Top 500 Prospects

 

 

 

  1. Dan says:
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    Great stuff Ralph.

    I’ve been holding Kopech in a redraft league as he continues to dominate in AAA, do you think he’ll get the call any time soon? Thanks a lot.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dan: Watched the start last night, and his secondaries looked sharp. That’s a big part of it! He’s just about ready for me, works the fastball all over the zone, command could be better, but all he needs is a shot at this point.

  2. Brian says:
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    hey ralph, 16 team h2h dynasty with QS and k/bb. I’m in 1st place. won 2 out of last 3 seasons. my starters have been dicey all year. already added a few guys to my rotation but haven’t worked out as expected (madbum, stripling) so i’m still hunting for SPs. My rotation is verlander, madbum, price, clevinger, wood, quintana, teheran, gausman, ervin, plutko, stripling, duffy, sonny.

    I’m in first on strength of my lineup…c-ramos, 1b-hosmer, 2b-jram, ss-correa, 3b-bryant, of-stanton, cruz, marte, util-brantley, blackmon, bn-jorge polanco, freese, beltre, carlos santana

    it’s a seller’s market so not much pitching out there to trade for and what is is expensive (marco just got moved for logan allen and a late 1st in the rookie draft). Wheeler might be available and he intrigues me. I’d be looking to package prospects and picks. my prospects that the wheeler owner has previously indicated interest in are kiriloff, yusniel, pache, brusdar, and mountcastle. the rest of my prosects are luis garcia (was), jazz, jhailyn, esteury, basabe, de los santos, luis medina, hearn, baz, santillan, dennis santana. my top draft pick is #18 (2nd pick in 2nd rd)

    If he’s willing to deal i’m assuming he’s going to want kiriloff plus at least 2 more from mountcastle, yusniel, pache, brusdar, and the 2nd rd pick. Kiriloff is the one that would really hurt to lose, and i have a little pause giving up pache. I’m fine giving up the others and the pick. Do you believe in wheeler for this year and beyond? do you believe in him enough to put kiriloff in the deal even if it ends up having to look something like kiriloff, brusdar, pache, and the 2nd pick?

    thanks ralph!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Brian: I would be okay moving Yusniel Diaz, Brusdar, and Jazz, Jhailyn, Esteury, Basabe, de Los Santos, Luis Medina, Hearn, Baz, Santillan, Dennis Santana.

  3. Slappy Jack says:
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    Going sooo deep Ralph
    I love it
    Kreygasm

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Slappy Jack: Thanks!

  4. Another Dan says:
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    Great stuff Ralph,

    1) 30tm FYPD took Adams over Alek Thomas. Mistake ?

    2) where (roughly) would Isbel feature in your FYPD rankings now ? I have 2 picks before 55, currently about pick 40. Then 85 then 115. Gotta take him about 55 right ? But plenty of talent remains like Walker, Pompey, Conine, Meadows, Siani (and a few others too)

    3) own Wilson in the same 30tm league. Holding for now. Was close to dealing him recently.

    4) any chance Nate Lowe sees time in the majors this year ? Cup of coffee ?

    5) any deep names to research for FYPD ? Draft is 300 deep. International signees not eligible.

    6) Football starts tomorrow. Away first game and I am at a wedding. Update will follow.

    Thanks and apologies for the lengthy post With multiple questions,

    Another Dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Another Dan:
      1. Not at all Jordyn Adams might be in my top 10. I love him.
      2. 40 or 55 depending what’s available. He’s a top 20-25 guy for me.
      3. He’s going to be really good, if young controllable pitching is important, hold.
      4. Maybe, but I wouldn’t hold my breath with the Rays.
      5. Brandon Howlett
      6. Damn weddings! Haha!

  5. SBW says:
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    Ralph,

    Rank these hitters and pitchers on the wire for me in dynasty?

    1. J. Rossario, Cabello, Paredes, Knowles and Rengifo?

    2. Allen, Patino, Oviedo and Loaisiga?

    SBW

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