It was only a year ago that Mickey Moniak entered our lives. After going with the first pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, the California prep star hit the Gulf Coast League, raked to the tune of .284/.340/.409 with 10 steals, plus a homer, and showed he was ready for a full season assignment in 2017. You could see all the tools were there, even if his power numbers were underwhelming. Then again, we knew the power would be a slow burn with Moniak, as it often is with prep players. He did show the ability to hit for average, get on base, and steal some bags. All worthy pursuits, but it’s not going to make Moniak a fantasy superstar. We need the power to develop, and of late Moniak has struggled, not just with power, but in all facets. In fact over the last two weeks he’s hitting .179, with 1 homer, and a caught stealing. That’s how you say? Awful! Yeah, so last night’s 4 for 5, Moniak’s first four hit game of his career, was a welcomed development. In my eyes Moniak is an elite top 50 prospect, even with the recent struggles. At a newly minted 19, you need to be patient with the kid as the skill set develops. No player’s future is set in stone, just ask Byron Buxton, but Moniak looks like a top of the order bat with elite contact skills, speed, and the dynamic ability to improve any offense he’s a part of. Think Christian Yelich, early Jacoby Ellsbury, or a Trea Turner type, though maybe not quite as dynamic as Turner. Take this post as a reminder to hold onto Moniak in dynasty leagues, especially as teams that own him approach the deadline in a month and a half. If you’re a dynasty manager looking to restock your farm, I’d be looking to add Moniak every where I could. Now you just have to hope your league mates don’t read Razzball……… Here’s what else went down in the MiLB.
- Another year, another Reds draft where I walk away impressed. Not only did they snag the highest upside prospect available in Hunter Greene at pick two. They also drafted Miami area Prep shortstop Jeter Downs, (yes, he was named after Derek), and Wake Forest outfielder, and 5 tool prospect Stuart Fairchild. The Reds the last few years have done the draft as well as anyone, and the young core they’re building is exciting.
- Another top 10 pick from the 2016 draft is making a name for himself in A.J. Puk. The A’s top pitching prospect continued to put on a show in the hitting friendly California League last night, with an 11 strikeout performance. This was a rebound start after a tough turn at Modesto last Friday. Though overall Puk’s been very strong the last month plus, posting a 2.89 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .187 batting average against, and striking out 65 batters over 40.1 innings in his last 8 starts. It’s not like Puk is getting lucky either, his LOB% over that period is 69.6%, and his BABIP is .329.
IMO Puk is ready for a promotion to AA.Not kidding, I wrote that sentence, looked at my phone, and saw the push notification that Puk was promoted to AA Midland.
- While the Red Sox were signing Jhonny Peralta, and rubbing together lucky pennies, praying for something from the third base position. Top prospect Rafael Devers was going 2 for 4 with his 11th homer of the season. He’s now slashing .305/.366/.548, and playing a very good defensive 3rd base. I don’t think he’s coming in the next two weeks, but if nothing gets done at the deadline, and the zombies manning third at Fenway don’t start to hit, then Devers is up in early August. Oh yeah, while writing this, Devers homered again in the Seadogs Thursday afternoon contest.
- As if the Yankees needed more positive news, Gleyber Torres has been en fuego in June, hitting .333/.408/.548 with 2 homers, and 13 RBIs in 11 games. The Yankees top prospect is showing contact, power, and approach at AAA, and he’s only 20. The 30% strikeout rate in June isn’t great, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping him yet.
- I guess my presence at Brent Honeywell’s May 28th start was the reason for his struggles. Because in the three starts since these baby blues witnessed the Rays top prospect, he’s been excellent. How excellent? How about 3-0, with a 2.55 ERA, 1.42 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, and just 4 walks to 23 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. Faria is up now, but Honeywell is the best of the group of high minors pitching prospects (Snell, Yarbrough, De Leon) currently in the Tampa system.
- Lucas Giolito logged another quality start for Charlotte on Saturday, and has dropped his ERA by nearly two runs over his last four starts. This run started with his 7 inning no-hit effort on May 25th, and he’s just continued to roll. Over that time he’s accrued a 2.28 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .221 batting average against, and 22 strikeouts to 9 walks in 23.1 innings. The driving force behind Giolito’s improvements seems to be a focus on getting back to basics, repeating his mechanics, and trusting the process. The result has been improved control of all of his pitches, but particularly the command of his fastball. Aaron Judge should be a reminder to not write off top talents during periods of struggle.
- After being money in the bank since returning from the DL, Cardinals top pitching prospect Luke Weaver pitched a stinker on Sunday. He’s still been phenomenal at AAA in 2017, and possesses the sort of control that makes him likely to translate his success to the majors. His first go round was up and down, but Weaver can miss bats, limit the free passes, and generate grounders. All things I look for in pitching prospects, here’s to a potential second go round in the bigs, being better than the first.
- Speaking of Cardinals pitching prospects in AAA, recently promoted Jack Flaherty continues to show why he might be callup worthy as well. Since seeing promotion to Memphis on June 2nd, he’s 1-0 in his 3 AAA starts with a 2.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, .169 BAA, and 23 K’s to 5 Bb’s in 18.1 innings. Last night in 6 innings of 3 run ball, Flaherty struck out 10 against the Brewers AAA affiliate Colorado Springs. He’s another prospect in a similar mold to his teammate Weaver, generating some swings and misses while relying on elite control to keep runners off base.
- When will the Cardinals promote Harrison Bader? He’s slashing .297/.353/.489 with 10 homers for Memphis, and I have to imagine they’re going to want to see what he can do on the big stage. Jose Martinez is fine as a bench bat, but I can’t imagine he’s going to offer St. Louis what Bader does. The former Flordia Gator, was a triple shy of cycle last night as he went 3 for 4 in the Redbirds win on Wednesday.
- In the last week we’ve seen many prospects get the call including Lewis Brinson, Derek Fisher, and as of today Matt Chapman. The fantasy baseball world turns it’s lonely eyes to the Mets and Amed Rosario. Any time now guys.
- If you need an idea of what to expect from Matt Chapman, think Joey Gallo.
- If you’re looking for an under the radar upper minors pitching spec with some upside, check out the Braves Patrick Weigel. He’s one of the less heralded arms in the Atlanta system, but his arsenal features a high 90’s fastball, a plus slider, and two average offerings in his curve and change. He turned in his best AAA start on Tuesday going 7 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, and one walk, while striking out 5. He’s a great play for deeper leagues, and dynasties, but isn’t on the 12 team mixed radar yet.
- Hot damn! Over the last month Clint Frazier has been scorching, slashing .299/.388/.575 with 6 homers and 7 steals (7/8). There’s no immediate need in New York, but as soon as there is, we might see the Ginger Hammer teaming up with Judge and Hicks to rival the Red Sox young core of outfielders. It’s the outfield revolution!
- Another Yankees prospect having a very nice season is AAA shortstop Tyler Wade. The 2013 4th rounder brings speed, contact, on base ability, and a little pop to the table. So far in 2017 he’s slashing .309/.368/.444 with 5 homers, and 15 steals. Looks to me like a solid everyday player, but more than likely would need a trade to a second division type franchise to play everyday.
- Dodgers second base prospect Willie Calhoun has 13 homers on the year and 8 have come over the last month. His defense is still the roadblock for any potential promotion, but he’s started to get some time in left in addition to second. Once he’s up, he’s a must own in all formats, the bat is soooooo real. How real? How about a .321 ISO, to an 11% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate. “Hit tool fah daze kid!“, as we say in Boston.
- Astros prospect Yordan Alvarez, featured in this space last week, homered in consecutive games Tuesday and Wednesday, and is slowly making a case for breakout prospect of the first half. As I said last week, if you’re in a dynasty and are looking to adda high upside bat, grab Alvarez.
- The 2015 draft produced quite a few potential fantasy stars in Benintendi, Swanson, Bregman, and others, but none of them may have the upside of the Rockies Brendan Rodgers. So far in High A Rodgers is taking full advantage of Lancaster’s friendly hitting environment, and the benefits of the Cal League in general. He’s in the midst of a 22 game hitting streak that’s seen him slash .441/.467/.784. He’s only walking 2.9% of the time, but then again why walk when you’re hitting .404 with a .692 slugging. Sure he’s taking advantage of his home park (.495/.522/.8830, but it’s not like his road numbers are bad (.305/.313/.484).
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