It’s gotta be tough having the same name as a famous person. You’re some how indirectly responsible for whatever they’re doing, or have ever done. I can relate, for mine is the same as world renowned fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Well, at least his government name. So perhaps that’s my bias when rooting for Astros outfield prospect Derek Fisher. I feel his pain… While sharing a name with the former Lakers point guard turned homewrecker isn’t what it used to be. He’s got to be sick to death of silly puns like my title, Amirite? Celebrity names aside, Fisher has been one of the best performers in the minors this season. He’s in the midst of a 16 game hitting streak, that’s seen him slash .394/.429/.712 with 5 homers, and 2 steals. An Astros outfield that once seemed so hard to crack doesn’t seem so insurmountable. Make no mistake that last statement has as much to do with Fisher, as it does anyone else’s lack of production. Since first being promoted to AAA on August 7th of last season, Fisher’s numbers are eye-popping. Over his first 52 AAA games the outfielder is slashing .309/.373/.547 with 13 homers, 9 steals, and an 8.3% walk rate. That’s not to say there aren’t some flaws, he’s always struck out around 25% of the time, and he’s not the most efficient basestealer either. So it wouldn’t surprise me if he struckout over 25% of the time in the majors, and saw his steal totals capped around 10-12 per season. But that’s not why I’m excited, it’s the fact that Fisher seems to be getting better. Following a roughish start to 2016 in AA, Fisher was promoted to Fresno as a challenge last season, and he rose to the occasion. I think he can be a very ownable outfielder in 12 team mixed leagues, if he finds himself seeing a majority of the starts in Houston this summer. Expect a .270ish average 20+ home run pop, and some steals mixed in. He’s an exciting player, and one that should be owned in all leagues with prospects or minor leagues of any kind. Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB.
- I love Jon Duplantier, he’s definitely one of my favorite breakout pitchers of the early going. Friday night he moved to 3-0 going 5 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 8. His K/9 now sits at 11.8, while his Bb/9 is at 1.9. That’s beautiful work coming from the Diamondbacks 3rd rounder. He’s got the size and the arm, but the murky injury history is a concern. He’s only a couple of strong starts away from a promotion.
- The 3rd overall pick, in the soon to be legendary 2015 draft, Brendan Rodgers has been on fire in his High A debut. He got a late start due to a hand injury, but it doesn’t seem to be effecting him. He’s in the midst of an 11 game hitting streak, while slashing .387/.413/.600 on the season. Only 2 homers so far, and I’d like to see a little more power, but it’s too early to worry about that. He ranked 7th in my pre-season Top 100, and he’s probably still around the same spot.
- In a rare occurrence these days, former top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito flashed some of his fleeting potential last night. He tossed 6 strong innings of 2 run ball, allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 5. It’s been a rough go of it in 2017 for the righty, as his ERA now stands at 6.55. He’s like a completely different player from the guy we saw two years ago.
- A former high school teammate of Giolito’s at Harvard-Westlake, is headed in the opposite direction. At the moment there are few pitchers hotter than the Cardinals Jack Flaherty. Through 7 starts he’s 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, and an elite 1.1 Bb/9. The 21 year old righty has prototypical size at 6-4, 205, and his pinpoint control, and command are his calling card. His arsenal is comprised of a low to mid 90’s fastball, an above average slider, plus changeup, and an average curve, that’s more effective against lefties. Profiles as a solid and safe mid-rotation type.
- Don’t call it a comeback, Dylan Cozens has hit 3 homers in his past two games, including consecutive walk-off jobs. He’s a big man with a lot of power, and Philly has no reason to not call up Cozens sometime this summer to see what he can do. He’ll hit some homers, steal some bases, and kill your average.
- Was great to see Ian Happ get the surprise callup, and slam a homer in his debut. He’s continued his assault on the PCL since coming off the DL last Sunday, going 10 for 20 with 8 RBIs, raising his average to .298. I love Happ, and pray he’s traded to a team with an open place in the everyday lineup , preferably an AL team with a good hitting environment.
- A great follow on twitter is CJ Wittmann @CJWittJr, he’s a northeast scout, and has some great reports. This week he took in the Erick Fedde vs Justus Sheffield dual in Trenton. He came away impressed with Fedde, saying he could get swings and misses on his slider whenever, describing it as 81-86 with tilt and hard bite. His fastball was 95 even in the 6th inning with heavy sink. He seemed less impressed with Justus Sheffield describing him as tiring as the game wore on, losing velocity on his fastball, and elevating many of his pitches.
- My 53rd overall prospect Triston McKenzie whiffed a career high 14 in his start Wednesday. His K/9 is now 12.25 on the season, with a 1.95 ERA, and he’s not even getting lucky, his strand rate is 68%. He’s got three plus pitches in his fastball, curveball, and changeup, and throws them all from a big downhill plane. His long lanky frame is reminiscent of a Stretch Armstrong doll. He’s still just 19, and looks like he could touch the major leagues late in 2018. There’s ace upside here.
- Saw an interesting stat on twitter from Eric Longenhagen regarding Brendan McKay Louisville’s star hitter and pitcher. Much debate has followed McKay regarding what route he pursues in the pros. Well let the following be a knock toward those of us believing in the bat. Vs. ACC opponents, or conference games, McKay has a .188 ISO with 3 homers in 103 plate appearances, while in Non-Conference games McKay has a .519 ISO, with 12 homers, in 102 plate appearances. This is significant because non-conference games are played during the week, where teams aren’t starting their best pitchers. So the stat implies he’s beating up on poor pitching. Still not swaying me from wanting McKay to go the hitter route.
- So far in 2017 it’s more of the same from Michael Kopech really. Lots of K’s, lots of walks, and lots of talk. He’s gone 6 innings in his last 3 starts, allowing a total of four runs over that span. At the moment Kopech isn’t ready to start in the majors, and he won’t be until he dials back the walks a little.
- I suppose he’s no longer a prospect, and this is technically major league shizz, but Jose Berrios was actually really good yesterday. He went 7 2/3rds, allowing 1 run, 2 hits, a walk, while striking out 4. I’m sure he’s owned most places, and he’s not really a hold in RCLs…..yet.
- Dodgers first base prospect Edwin Rios remains one of the most slept on hitters in the minors. He’s slashing .331/.356/.551 with 6 homers, and 29 RBIs in 32 games. He’s not one for approach, but he hits the ball hard, and he makes lots on contact. He’s widely available in lots of leagues, I think he’s worth a flier.
- In other news Dave Dombrowski’s awful decision-making hangs over my head like a halo of shame. It’s bad enough that Travis Shaw is going ham and cheese hot pocket. But Mauricio Dubon is back to the batting average and steals guy he always was. He actually leads all of AA at the moment with 18 steals. I’m not sure where he gets everyday playing time, but if he finds some time in Milwaukee, he’ll be a great source of steals, as the Brewers like to run.
- The Padres Luis Urias is the hit tool king of the minors right now, he has to be. He’s hitting .333/.430/.500 as a 19 year old in AA. His walk rate (14.5%) is higher than his strikeout rate (11.2%), and he’s been hitting for more power this year. You have to figure, a player with a bat this advanced at such a young age, has the ability to tap into some power between now and his peak years. He’ll definitely be in my next top 100.
- San Francisco first base prospect Chris Shaw snapped a 7 game hit streak with an 0 for 3 showing. Shaw’s not one of my favorite prospects so I rarely cover him. I just can’t get that gassed about a power hitting San Francisco spec. Doesn’t matter because he’s been excellent this season slashing .311/.419/.515 with 4 homers. I think he’s a major leaguer, maybe a second division regular type, but a major leaguer.
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