It’s amazing the difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago the Angels had one of the most wretched farms in all of the land. A couple of intriguing talents, a lot of system depth, and tons of minor league fodder. Then came last June’s draft, where the Angels were lucky enough to land a handful of really nice talents, players like Griffin Canning, Jacob Perason, and John Swanda, but none more talented than Jo Adell. Last year’s 10th overall pick out of Ballard High in Kentucky, hit rookie ball like a ton of bricks in 2017 slashing .325/.376/.532, with 5 homers and 8 steals. So it came as no surprise that Adell was assigned to low-A Burlington of the Midwest League out of camp. Through 25 games at the low-A level Adell was once again putting up elite production to the tune of .326/.398/.611 with 6 homers, and 4 steals, while placing amongst the leaders in RBI at 29. That’s more than a steak a game! The Angels brass, having functioning eyes, saw this, and promoted the talented Adell to high A Inland of the California League. If you know anything about the Cal League, it should be this, {power + Cal League parks = Kieboom!} BTW, that’s how we say Kaboom in prospector. Going forward Adell should be viewed as a top tier prospect, a player capable of pushing his way to the Top 10 by season’s end. In my most recent update of my top 25, Adell leapfrogged up to 21. He should be owned in all dynasty formats, and is a player worth targeting in trades for rebuilding teams.

  • Another young talent, and former Top 10 pick was recently promoted as well, I’m of course talking about the Twins middle infielder Nick Gordon. Promoted to AAA Rochester, Gordon is just one shot away from the show, and he’s been an improving player over the last year plus. Tapping into more power, more than doubling his ISO in two years, which is huge boost to his offensive upside. Gordon has the ability to contribute in a multitude of categories. Below I have included an astute observation, and corresponding tweet by Connor Kurcon of 6-Man Rotation, showcasing the changes in Gordon’s swing this year.

  • Who wants to talk about Kevin Smith? The Blue Jays 4th rounder out of Maryland last year, is a player with true offensive skills, with the defensive chops to stick on the left-side of the infield. His bat speed, clean hips, and strong wrists have been on display early this season in the Midwest League. His slashline is an insane, .373/.425/.675 with 33 extra base hits to 28 strikeouts. The one knock on Smith was the ability for pitchers to exploit some of the holes in his uppercut swing. However, that does not seem to be the case at the moment. It will be interesting to see how far he ascends before struggling, but in the present he appears a legit breakout candidate from relative obscurity. Here’s Top Twitter Prospect follow Jason Woodell’s take, with some tape from the backfields.

  • I admittedly tend to focus more on hitting prospects than pitchers. As a dynasty manager, I tend to bet on bats giving you better return on your investment. My Fantrax Baseball Show co-host Andy Singleton is the opposite. He’s always mining for breakout arms, and he might have found a great one in the Angels 20 year old lefty Jose Suarez. The short stout southpaw, mixes a nasty mid-90’s heater with an elite changeup, and an average hook. His K per 9 numbers are eye-popping, having gone from a 5.7 K/9 in 2015, to a 10.68 in 2016, to a 11.8 in 2017, before maxing out at 16 per this season across high-A and AA. The lefty got the promotion to AAA Salt Lake, and makes his debut for the Bees sometime over the weekend.
  • Speaking of up and coming pitching prospects… the reports from Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser regarding Rangers righty Jonathan Hernandez have me drooling. High spin-rate two-seam fastball with velo that touches 98 MPH, on a pitch that features nice run as well. He mixes a trio of secondaries in two breaking balls, and an off-speed pitch. The best of which is his slider, routinely pairing with his fastball to generate wind power. Watching tape of Hernandez this morning, and it’s obvious why his strikeout numbers have been so robust. With the spin on his two seamer, he’s able to challenge hitters up in the zone. This is something teams are searching for more and more, with increased launch angles, many hitters have mastered elevating low balls in the zone. It’s becoming increasingly important for pitchers to be able to challenge hitters up in the zone. His season stats bear this out, as they are as eye-popping as his stuff. A 1.94 ERA, .176 batting average against, and a K/9 of 12.04 set the tone. Sure he’s doing this in high-A as a 21 year old, but the stuff is there, and I’m fully buying in.

via Gfycat

  • Lance and I are headed up to Manchester, NH for another “Scouting Date” on Friday night to watch the only two teams we ever catch. The Hartford Yardgoats and the New Hampshire Vlad-Bo-Biggios. Speaking of Biggio, he continued his tear last night going 3-for-5, with a double and a triple, driving in 3. The young son of a Hall of Famer, (no, not that one, the other one), is now slashing .304/.429/.689 with 25 extra base hits, 12 of them homers. He should see AAA Buffalo before we know it, and might be a good bet to end up a bat first second baseman at the major league level. I’m all in.
  • The Padres super-giant Michel Baez was back to his old tricks yesterday going 6 scoreless, allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 4. It was by no means a dominant start, but a step in the right direction for an arm that has struggled.
  • A player I’m slowly starting to obsess over is the Indians George Valera. A talented J2 kid from last year’s class, Valera draws comps to Juan Soto of recent MLB callup fame. There was a great post in Baseball America this week detailing his back story, and it’s pretty interesting. He’s actually an NYC kid, who moved down to the Dominican Republic following an accident his father was involved in. In the box Valera reminds me of a young Robinson Cano. Only I assume he is not on PEDs.

  • Yankees lefty, and top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield returned from the DL last night to go four scoreless, allowing four hits, a walk, while striking out 5. I’ve gotten a lot of questions regarding Sheffield’s impact in the Bronx this season. I’m apprehensive to say yes, due to the difficult nature of not only pitching in the AL East, but also Yankee Stadium. Blessed with a plus-plus fastball that touches 98, and two above average secondaries in his slider and changeup, the last piece of the puzzle is mastering his command and consistency on all of his offerings.
  • My partner in crime on the Prospect Pod, Mr. Lance Brozdowski, is doing some work for the Cardinals SB Nation site Viva El Birdos, and dug in on the recently promoted Andrew Knizner, and the adjustments he’s made to his swing. Read Lance’s post here.
  • Just for all my peoples here’s another Vladito homer from this morning’s game. His 9th of the season.

  • There’s a couple of second baseman that are on the come up at the moment. One being Padres 20 year old phenom Luis Urias, and the other being Brewers 2017 first rounder Keston Hiura. The former is in the midst of a hot streak that has allowed him to move past some early season struggles. His average on the season is up to .290 following multi-hit games in 3 of his last 4. Urias has the defensive chops to stick in the middle infield, and the ability to one day be listed as one of the better all around players at the keystone. As for Hiura the 9th overall pick in last year’s draft has caught fire the past two weeks slashing .348/.464/.522 while playing second base 7 of the past 10 games. A really good sign for a player with some position question marks following an elbow injury that limited him to DH duties his final year at Cal-Irvine.
  • While we’re on the topic of 2017 draft picks, there’s yet another catcher not named Mejia putting up crooked numbers in the MiLB at the moment. That man is Diamondbacks high-A catcher Daulton Varsho. A personal favorite coming out of the draft Varsho is the son of MLB player Gary Varsho. So far this season he’s slashing .300/.399/.500 with 6 jacks to his credit, and 11 steals. A quick lefty bat, with an advanced approach, and above average athleticism for a catcher, Varsho hits for power, contact, gets on base at a high clip, and even runs a little too. He’s played 27 of his 38 games behind the plate, which could delay his ETA some, should he develop as a catcher.

via Gfycat

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Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
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  1. jose says:
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    Ralph,
    I watched Kyle Wright’s last Start, it was suspended for rain, after two inning.
    I was disappointed with his fast ball, he can reach 96-97 MPH, but he can’t miss bats. He was making them look silly with his curve, they missed or checked swing at every one of them.
    The fastball they either foul it off or hit it hard somewhere. He finally threw one by the pitcher and he got cocky and tried it again and he singled to right and drove in two runs, only the second hit of his career.

    Can you watch part of the archived game and tell me what you think? If that game is not available, can you check another recent one? Am I seen something that is NOT there?

    I am concern he has not looked sharp, very often this year.

    • jose says:
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      @jose: Another Jose. No way Jose!

      • Jose H. says:
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        @jose:

        i will change my to “Jose H”

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @jose: I’m also concerned and watched some of this game. I’m seeing the same things. There’s no sniff of dominance ever. Not a pitch, control, sequencing. He just looks like a back-end guy. Wright is dropping for me.

      • Jose H. says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        I think i am going to try to trade him for something better. I will keep in touch.

  2. jose says:
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    Ralph,

    This is one of my favorite reads of the week and I’m not even in a dynasty league. I just like knowing about these guys for whatever reason. Haha

    I wanted to get your opinion on the Senzel situation. I’ve owned Peraza all year and at the draft price I paid for him, he’s been fine. That being said, he feels like the first guy to lose playing time if and when Senzel gets promoted. For that reason I’d like to be able to pick up Senzel when he’s promoted to replace Peraza.

    I know Senzel had the same problem with Vertigo at the end of last season, but don’t remember how he did after “recovering” from it. From what I can tell, he’s been at extended spring training for 2-3 weeks now with no reports of a set back. Do you think best case scenario he’s still a July call up and more than likely a post All Star break call up? That’d be another week in extended spring training and a month back at AAA.

    Thanks for the thoughts and all the work Ralph!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @jose: Thanks for reading! I think it’s likely a post-ASB promotion at this point. No need to force the issue.

  3. Justin says:
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    What do you think about Mejia and his struggles so far? People talk about the position switch possibly slowing him down but couldn’t be the fact that AAA is just harder and he might not be ready for the bigs yet?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Justin: Maybe, I actually think AAA isn’t as good as AA, it’s a lot of retreads and washouts. I think they kind of jacked with his development by moving him off of the position, and he’s spending more time learning two positions.

  4. Silent Heat says:
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    Is Myles Straw going to be White Billy Hamilton?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Silent Heat: Only if he grows a patchy beard. He’s got the wheel to.

    • dannyp says:
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      @Silent Heat: Myles straw has a much better approach than billy h from what I can tell by looking at the numbers. More walks than Ks over the last 2 seasons and a career .408 OBP. Absolutely no power to speak of, but with the good on base skills and speed, I’m keeping an eye on him

      • Silent Heat says:
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        @dannyp: Totally agree, I was making an inside joke with the Billy H comparison. I’m 99% sure he will be in the Majors by the end of the year, they almost called him up last year from A ball to use as a pinch runner in the playoffs. I think the kid is going to bat lead off for that team in a year or two and be a fantasy star. No idea why he is totally off everyone’s radar his SB and Runs scored potential is off the chart.

  5. sport says:
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    As always this is all worth the read. Thank you for all your work. I was curious about Nick Gordon so nice timing!

    Shane Bieber or Sandy Alcantara for this year?!

    Who comes up first, Austin Riley or Brendan Rogers?!

    Does Jose Suárez pass any pitchers up in your top 50? Like Baez Triston McKenzie?

    • Another Dan says:
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      @sport:

      Think I’d guess Riley. Purely because Rodgers is a Rockie.

      • sport says:
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        @Another Dan:

        Do I know you Dan? Day2day10dayDLallstars?

        And I hear ya on the Rockies. Just can’t wait to see him full time in Colorado.

        • Another Dan says:
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          @sport:

          I don’t think so. Not a league I play in.

          Been waiting for McMahon and Dahl to get full time gigs in Colorado for what seems like ages while they wheel out Gonzalez/Desmond.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Another Dan: Indeed! Rodgers has made some adjustments at the plate, and he’s driving the ball a lot more. I’ll grt to see him yet again tomorrow. I’ve seen him like 4-5 times already!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @sport: Shane Bieber. He’s the real deal.

      I think Riley could be up in weeks.

      I’m not moving him past either yet, but it’s tough to doubt this kid.

  6. Jose H. says:
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    Ralph,
    What is happening with Gore?
    He was supposed to fast forward threw the lower minors and with all this blister, he has not even had one good start in A ball. He keeps getting hammered and going on the DL Is this going to be a chronic problem for him?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jose H.: We’ll see, but he’s 19 and a pitcher this happens. The first start he looked good early, and then got a little unlucky. No reason to panic

  7. Big league choo says:
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    10 team 5×5 OBP dynasty

    Meadow is really looking good right now, going to have some tough decisions to make when pollock be Thames are back from DL. If I were to deal meadows what MI or SP should I aim for?

    MInors
    Adell
    Calhoun
    Mateo
    Yordan Alvarez
    Luzardo

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Big league choo: Adell is an OF. I’d go Adell, Calhoun, Yordan, Luzardo.

  8. Shawn says:
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    16 team dynasty league. I picked up Soto for $76 bid. I’m in a major rebuild with the team I took over, complete youth movement.

    I’ve been offered Aaron Nola for Soto? Guy thinks I’m crazy to not jump on it, am I? I tend to value hitters more than pitchers so any advice here would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Shawn: Don’t do it. Like Nola but he’s an arm.

  9. Another Dan says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    Superb stuff. Love that I keep hearing names that are already in my rosters. That’s on you !! I love the dynasty aspect of fantasy baseball. Very satisfying having a roster with Bellinger, Acuna, Bnintendi on it.

    Adell, looking forward to rejecting lots of trade offers in the next few months.

    Valera getting some buzz on rotoworld too. Should he be rostered in leagues with 250 owned ? Over Marcus Wilson ?

    Suarez over Wentz ?

    Still trading Schwarber away. Don’t like him not having C eligibility next year. Almost makes him fringe rosterable. Got an offer of Fedde,Pache and Fisher for him. Too little ? Think the issue is who I cut to create the roster space.

    Best wishes,

    Another Dan

    • Another Dan says:
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      @Another Dan:

      Interestingly someone just picked Valera up in one league. I’m guessing he reads your stuff !!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Another Dan: Thanks Dan!

      You know I agree with that. What’s better than scooping up players and watching them make you look smart.

      Over Marcus Wilson for sure.

      Suarez over Wentz for me as well.

      Good deal, get rid of Jugs!

  10. Brian says:
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    6×6 dynasty league with Qs and k/bb. Need to cut one. Domingo german or Andrew suarez.

    Thanks ralph.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Brian: German.

  11. Squid says:
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    Thanks Ralph!
    H2h .
    Rest of season. Gohara, M. Gonzales, Stripling?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Squid: Gohara

  12. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    Great stuff boss thanks

  13. Notorious D.A.N. says:
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    When Urias gets the call this summer do you think he takes over for Galvis at SS or Pirela at 2B?

  14. Slammin Sammy says:
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    As always awesome work ralph,

    Better side in trade:

    Side 1: Gets Tirso Ornelas and Kyle Funkhouser

    Side 2: Gets Shane Bieber and Chris Paddack

  15. dfrench23 says:
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    What about Eloy Jimenez? I haven’t heard much about him in a while??

  16. David says:
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    I’m in a 20 team dynasty league with 20 milb slots. Would you drop Acevedo, g. Arias, l. Guerriel, h. Harvey, Jose Israel Garcia, vientos, e. Ruiz, or zapata for Kevin smith and/or Valera?

    Currently my team is in 6th, but looking to still build for the future.

    Thanks!

  17. Anthony says:
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    How long do players like Jonathan Hernandez have to sustain what they’re doing before they get called up. I live in Eastern NC and have seen him pitch 3 starts this year. He’s been lights out, plain and simple. While I haven’t seen him hit 98, I have seen him around 94-95 regularly, strikes everyone out in A ball, and doesn’t walk anyone. You’d figure he’d be in AA now right?

    Some other guys that have been terrible lately that I have seen posted in articles in here are Jhailin Ortiz and Yasel Antuna. I know those guys are really young, but what do you make of their awful starts?

    Any updates on Riley Pint, Luis Robert, and Alec Hansen injuries? I can’t seem to find anything when I google.

  18. eric says:
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    Vlad: Over/Under call up date?

  19. Dynasty Dud says:
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    Hey Ralph! Would u trade Taylor Trammel and Nick Kingham for Byron Buxton and Jordan Montgomery in my dyno lge?? Thx!!

  20. Bryan McDonald says:
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    In a forever keeper league, what current MLB player is Vlad worth trading for?

    • dannyp says:
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      @Bryan McDonald: I offered Goldy in a 20 team keep forever and was declined..

Comments are closed.