Doesn’t it feel as though every year, a college hitter is taken near the top of the draft and immediately takes to the lower levels like a fish to water? In the grand tradition of recency bias, Nick Madrigal has emerged as our early favorite for the superlative “first to the majors”. Despite going 0-for-5 Saturday night, he’s hitting .389/.390/.472 with 2 steals through 10 games at Low-A Kannapolis. Here’s the remarkable thing, across 51 plate appearances between the AZL and Sally League he’s yet to strikeout. Zero. He hasn’t walked a ton, drawing a free pass just twice, and he hasn’t shown a ton of power either, he’s yet to homer in the 15 games he played. Instead knocking just two doubles. Hopefully due to the quality of contact he can fall into a dozen plus homers in his prime years. So I suppose that begs the question, is it a “better in real life” profile? There’s a good chance that’s the case, he could be a .285 hitter with 10-14 homers and a dozen steals. That’s a solid player, but it’s not what you’re looking for at the top of your first year player draft. That however is worst case scenario in my opinion. The ceiling looks like this; the power develops into a 17-20 homer number, with a .300+ batting average, and 15 or so steals. He scores a ton of runs, your team loves it, and everybody gets ice cream. That’s not a pipe dream to wish on either, this kid’s hit tool is a legit 70. That alone should give him a pretty good shot at being a top of the order, run producing type of player. I’m a big fan of Madrigal, and believe in the upside, but I’d be remiss to not mention the downside. Here’s some other players of note in MiLB.

  • It felt great to watch Victor Robles have a day in his return to the Syracuse Chiefs lineup. The Nationals top prospect went 3-for-4 with a homer, two steals, and a pair of runs and RBI to match. He of course went 0-for-5 on Saturday, but baseball. I love Robles and can see him pairing with Juan Soto for many years in the Washington outfield. I’ve heard some trade rumors of late, but that can’t be a major cause for concern. Robles is a player that can help your team in a multitude of ways, and that’s what you should target. Right?

  • One of the more under the radar teenagers making noise in rookie ball is the Kingsport Mets Mark Vientos. 18 for the entirety of 2018, despite this being Vientos’ second stint in Kingsport. The numbers on the season are solid, (.261/.336/.471 with 6 homers) but not mind blowing. Over his last 7 games however he’s really found his groove, cranking 4 homers over a 6 game stretch. The most promising development in Vientos’ game is his strikeout and walk rates. His K% decreased from 22% in 2017 to 14.5% in 2018. In turn his walk rate has increased to 9% this season, a solid jump from his 7% mark last year. Obviously Vientos is quite a ways away, but he’s a good bat that’s likely found a permanent home at third base.

  • The Rays Brendan McKay was back to his Shohei Ohtani like ways Thursday and Friday for Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League. He went yard twice on Friday, after tossing three scoreless innings, allowing just 1 hit, while striking out 5. I’m still not sure how McKay fits long term. Is the bat good enough to first be viable in the bigs, and is there a chance it’s actually an impact bat? How many innings will he throw if this two way experiment does work? I think he’s likely a pretty good number two or three starter if he follows that path, but I’m not sold on the bat.
  • The Astros Cristian Javier was a hard luck loser for Buies Creek Saturday afternoon. He went five and two thirds in a seven inning contest, allowing just one run on 2 hits and a walk, striking out 8 in the process. He’s 3-3 in seven Carolina League starts, with a 1.98 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 39 Ks to 14 walks in 41 innings. The righthander has burst onto the prospect radar this year with a strong performance, 1.89 ERA, 119 Ks over 90.1 innings, between both levels of A ball. He gets by on some deception and feel for a four pitch arsenal led by a low 90s fastball and a curveball.
  • The Twins Brent Rooker has been hot at AA Chattanooga slugging five homers over his last ten games, and after a slow start he’s turned his time in AA around. Since June 1st he’s slashing .314/.396/.639 with 14 homers and an 11% walk rate. He still strikes out too much, but he gets scorching hot for stretches and hits tons of homers. If you’re looking for power in an OBP league Rooker is a good get .
  • On my ride down to catch a Cape League game on Thursday, I got to hear first hand about Paul Martin’s interview with Jon Duplantier. Paul drove down with me so he told me about it. In my opinion the Diamondbacks righthander is one of the more underrated pitching prospects in the minors. He’s an exciting player for fantasy too, showing the ability to miss bats, with above average command of a four pitch arsenal. The issue for Duplantier has always been the same, health. He’s currently working his way back from his latest issue in the AZL, but should return to the AA Jackson rotation soon.
  • Another very strong showing from teenage lefty MacKenzie Gore. He went five on Friday, allowing 2 earned, on 4 hits, striking out seven. Since returning from the DL he has a 2.83 ERA/2.66 FIP, 31.7% K%, 8.3% Bb%, and a .186 BAA. He’s also dropping curveballs like this.

  • I’m all about the pitching prospects this week! Ian Anderson is on a string of six consecutive starts allowing two runs or less over 5+ innings. This really isn’t out of line with his other 18 starts, at the moment, Anderson sports a 2.79/2.59/3.00 ERA/FIP/xFIP with a K% a smidge under 30%, in his age 19/20 season at high-A. He mixes a mid-90s fastball with sink and run, a plus 12-6 curveball that’s already a swing and miss pitch. He can throw his changeup for strikes, it has movement, and he’ll use it to neutralize lefties, and catch righthanders off balance. He’s still got some growing to do in terms of command of all of his offerings, but he has the makings of a top of he rotation guy of everything maxes out.
  • The Astros J.B. Bukauskus worked his way to full season ball earlier last week. He’s now made two starts for Quad-City going 5 scoreless in his first turn striking out 7. On Friday he again struck out 7, but the effort wasn’t as clean, allowing two runs of 3 hits, and 2 Bbs over four and a third. He’s still got a good fastball and a nasty slider, I’m willing to buy back in on Bukauskus at the right price. Mid-rotation upside, reliever floor type.
  • An interesting name to look for in deep leagues is the Reds righty Josiah Gray. He went 72nd overall out of D2 Le Monye, mixes a high 90s fastball, with a above average slider, and developing changeup. He of course bossed out at division 2 but caught the attention of scouts last summer down the Cape. He’s made 7 starts at rookie level Greenville showing well with a 2.90/2.70 ERA/FIP, with a 26.5% K%, 6.6% Bb%, and a .168 BAA.
  • The Yankees have a ton of exciting low minors players at the moment Everson Pereira, Roasny Contreras, Luis Gil, and of course Antonio Cabello. The outfielder is hitting .326/.433/.611 with 4 homers in the GCL. Take it from someone who has seen Cabello, here’s Jason Woodell’s report.

  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is spending the weekend in Cooperstown with his pops before he heads up to AAA Buffalo. He was nice enough to bless us with one last homer with old pal Bo Bichette on Friday night. Vlad’s

  • And Bo’s

  • I hate to say it but catcher be damned I’m moving up the Giants Joey Bart. He has 9 homers in 18 games with the short season Salem-Keizer Volcanos. He’s not walking much, but then again he’s too busy hitting homers. Not sure if he gets a full season assignment in the last month, but he’s very much a catching prospect worth your attention.
  • The Royals Nicky Lopez is making a case for a late season promotion at AAA Omaha. He’s slashing .326/.423/.484 with an even 12.5% K% and Bb%. He runs a little and is flashing enough over the fence power to find some deep league relevance if he gets the call. Lopez had a five hit game on Friday, but was out of the lineup on Saturday.

  • Prospect Gifs is right! Let’s show some love to Taylor Ward! He’s putting up video game numbers at the upper levels, and has successfully converted to third base full-time from catching.

  • I’m completely sucked back into Corey Ray. and you blame me? Speed, power, the ability to play centerfield at a high level. He’s going to be a major league player, even with the strikeout woes, and hit tool warts, he’s hit 21 homers, stole 32 bases, and walked 11% of the time at AA. Then again I don’t know how many homers were vs. catchers pitching.

  • My 52nd ranked prospect, the Twins Brusdar Graterol was in full effect Saturday, punching out 10 batters over 5 2/3rds innings. He allowed just 1 run on, 2 hits, and 3 walks, and continue to gain steam with each start at high-A Fort Myers. The flamethrower has shown well in his first season of full season ball, and should find his way onto Top 50s of Prospect lists this offseason. The righthander mixes a plus, possible double plus heater, with a plus breaking ball, and an above average changeup.
  • The Red Sox tried to re-work the arsenal of 2017 first rounder Tanner Houck, the changes didn’t take and he’s reverted back to his old self, focusing heavily on his two-seam fastball, that sits 93-95 with nasty run. The four-seamer he was working with earlier this season, he can ramp up to 98, but had trouble getting the same action as his two-seamer. The fastball combination paired with his inconsistent, but promising slider, might give Houck a future as a high end reliever. He however has been strong of late in the Salem rotation, turning in his 4th quality start in his last 5, over that time period he’s amassed a 3-1 record with a 2.03 ERA, .193 BAA, and 28 Ks to 6 Bbs in 31 innings.

  • The Fort Myers Miracle has to be among the most talented in all of Minor League baseball. Not only do they boast the aforementioned Brusdar Graterol but Royce Lewis, and Alex Kirilloff. The latter of which is showing exactly why I ranked him 15th overall in my recent Top 500 update. Through 33 games at High-A Kirilloff is hitting .381/.406/.575 with 3 homers, and is in the midst of a 12 game hitting streak, where he’s recorded multiple hit games in 8 of the dozen. Over that time frame he’s hitting .553/.577/.915. Mind blown emoji.
  • Are the Orioles cobbling together a decent farm system for once? They’ve added Yusniel Diaz, Dillon Tate, and Rylan Bannon, seen major development strides from D.L. Hall, Keegan Akin, Ryan McKenna, Zack Lowther, and Cedric Mullins, and now first rounder Grayson Rodriguez is shutting the Birdland haters up. Nine innings into his professional career and Gray-Rod has yet to allow an earned run. It’s early, and the sample is small, but we still can’t ignore that the Orioles are an improving system. Oh, and by the way, Emily Waldon dropped this gem on us.

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

 

  1. Rob says:
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    What would you give up for Scooter Gennett in a … let’s say 30 team dynasty…

    • Miketron says:
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      @Rob: I would say at least an Andrew Benintendi.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Miketron: at a minimum

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Rob: Your three best players and a Starbucks gift card.

      • Rob says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: all I have is Dermis Garcia and a Dunkin BOGO

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Rob: Skin Garcia!

  2. Miketron says:
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    Ralph I know you are an Isan Diaz guy. Do you see him making his debut in September or wait until next year?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Miketron: I guess the next few days might dictate some of that timeline. If they move a few guys it might open up a spot. Then again, who am i kidding The Marlins don’t have anything really blocking him.

  3. John says:
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    Hey Ralph, starting to make keeper considerations. 20 team mixed league Point H2H. I get to keep 6 MLB guys. I’m set up pretty well with MLB guys like
    Muncy (19,20,21)
    Pham (19,20),
    C Taylor (19,20)
    W Calhoun (19,20,21)
    Kingery (19,20,21)
    T O’Neil (19,20,21)
    J Flaherty (19,20,21)
    N Pivetta (19,20,21)
    J Gray (19)
    With K Tucker, L Robert, Y Alvarez, F Mejia, M Kopech, F Whitely, B Honeywell in the minors

    My question in all of this is how you would value R Devers with 2 years of control (19,20) in all that? I figure you’d know best cause you watched him come up and might have an inside track as a Sox fan. He just seemed to stall in his development this year and I don’t know how much that was injury.

    Thanks man!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @John: I would definitely hold on Devers. The power and hitting ability is there, we just forget how crazy young this kid is. There’s not that many Juan Soto’s.

  4. Luvdarooks says:
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    I am going for the win this year and have Paddack at only $2 he gets $5/yr raises once he hits 50 IP.
    Will he be a # 1 or 2 starter and when do you see him taking the league by “storm”?
    2021 … ?

    • Luvdarooks says:
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      (Might trade him for a regular hitter in NL only)

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Luvdarooks: I’m not sure if he’s going to go full Lake Els right from the jump, but he should be up next year.

  5. howtathor says:
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    Ralph, Thanks for the update! Buis Creek A+ has quite the pitching staff this year:
    Enoli Paredes 1.34 era 76k in 60 IP
    Brandon Bailey 2.71 era, 106k in 89 IP
    Thanks again!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @howtathor: Indeed! The Astros know how to breed’em!

  6. Scott Kimmel says:
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    Ralph,

    I just got a trade offer of me giving up Jason Groome and Poncedeleon and I get Minor leaguer Yordan Alvarez. Make the deal?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Scott Kimmel: Oh yes! Then go and have sex with that person.

      • Scott Kimmel says:
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        huh?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Scott Kimmel: That trade is so good, you owe them big time. It was a joke Scott. Don’t actually have sex with them. Unless it’s consensual.

  7. Scott says:
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    So I guess I should cut hampson in a redraft? Valaika starting again. You have to love the Rockies and how they treat prospects. I really was excited to see what hampson could do over a month in Coors. Should I be looking at Rosario instead as a MI. What do you think of him? This is an obp league. Hampson had everything I was looking for: pop, speed, good strike zone management, favorable park, good lineup and a .368 obp so far in games started. Other options are mondesi, wendle, Russell. Who should I add or do I hold hampson and hope he plays. Thanks

    • Scott says:
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      Or Jorge polanco

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Scott: Go grab Mondesi. I hate the Rockies!

      • Scott says:
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        Agreed. As long as Bud Black is managing, maybe all prospects from Colorodo should get dinged in the rankings. Coors offers no boost in value for riding pine. Seriously they don’t play anyone. I’m surprised Arenado is playing every day, I’m not sure he is old enough.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: these guys just need to have group sessions and learn to fake being religious, they could (should) just prey to have playing time in their heads while praising jebus or some other specter that the coach wants them to. it will come off as honest as i’m sure they would love to believe in that (the playing time).

        – do you hear that, mcmahon/tapia/hampson/(get ready rodgers)/dahl? i’m being serious here too, that’s how utterly insane that team is managed. freakin’ m.holliday they just signed too.

  8. Holala says:
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    Hey Ralph. Thanks for your work!!

    Keeper League. 18 teams, 15 keepers. Currently in 2nd place. Would you trade Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley for James Paxton and Jameson Taillon?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Holala: Not a great deal, but will it help you win this year?

  9. Anthony says:
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    Alec Hansens stat line over his last couple starts has been atrocious. How far is he dropping down your list?

  10. HamPorter says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    I’m in a 12 NL only dynasty league. I have recently made a run at first place. My two weakest categories are batting average and slugging percentage. We can roster 10 minor league players that have a .50 contract when they reach the minors. At the beginning of the season our roster has to be $26 or below after the draft (14 position players/9pitchers)

    I’m looking into a trade with a guy in last place and only has 1 player in his farm system. The trade would be Arenado (4.40) and Nick Markakis (.20) for Hosmer (3.40), Kingery(.50) and farm players: Mejia, Urias, and Heliot Ramos. Would this offer be fair? Other minor league players I have are Hiura, Hasely, Gorman, Bohm, DJ Peters, and Paddack. Thoughts?

  11. Anthony says:
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    MLB pipelines new rankings came out. Who are some guys that you think they’re too low or high on? Josh Naylor is way low to me.

  12. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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    on the SP prospect trade value front, i’m guessing (betting in fact i would) that yr leagues have smarter people than mine. unless mize has the obv report of some kind of high floor only type (and maybe even then) a guy that went #1 will likely be tradable to SOMEBODY in this league, even if say half the league might adjust hitter to pitcher values. some teams have a lot of SP stashed and little hitters, likely of the mindset that “you find the best SP eventually by stashing a lot of them”.

  13. Milarky says:
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    Yo Ralph, love the articles and pods! I claimed Corey Seager off waivers for the sole purpose of trading him for a prospect (can only keep one SS into next year, and I lucked into Story). We only get to hang onto 3 designated prospects year to year, so it’s a bit of a crapshoot on who will be kept especially given that we must start both a rookie hitter and pitcher.

    I already have Tucker, Kingery, Buehler, Hiura, Trammell, Sixto. Noone seems to want to give me a blue-chipper for Seager to make it a slam dunk, but I can probably get one of the following guys – can you rank the top 3 I should shoot for? Is it as simple as going by your rankings given this convoluted scenario?

    Ryan McMahon (1 year left as prospect keeper)
    Peter Alonso (2 years left as a prospect keeper)
    Austin Riley (2 years left as a prospect keeper)
    Alex Kiriloff (2 years left as a prospect keeper)
    Tyler O’Neil (1 year left as prospect keeper)
    Gerrett Hampson (2 years left as a prospect keeper)

    • Milarky says:
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      @Milarky: Scratch O’Neill off that list…

    • Milarky says:
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      @Milarky: But interestingly enough, add Mejia to the list (1 year left as prospect keeper)…

  14. Rhys's Pieces says:
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    I’ve noticed that the Cardinals Jose Adolis Garcia at AAA has been absolutely on fire lately. What are your thoughts on him? Would you prefer Adolis or Bobby Dalbec in a deep Dynasty league?

  15. Milarky says:
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    OK, scratch my abomination of a question above, I’ll try a simpler approach. Which of Royce Lewis or Francisco Mejia would you target, now that Mejia has landed on the Padres seemingly as a potential catcher again?

  16. sabs says:
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    No mention of eloy jimenez?? guy is tearing the cover off the ball in AAA. the white sox should be arrested for false imprisonment. When’s his ETA?

  17. Drakes illegitimate son says:
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    Trade help.. keep forever.
    Trade Kiriloff and Brusdar for greg polanco?
    I can also get buxton for those 2 . Take it and run or ask for more? Im trying tomwin now.

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