If you google Ryan Mckenna without specifying Orioles, baseball, or something to that effect, you get some kid that took a selfie with Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl. The kid was from Massachusetts so OF COURSE it’s a way bigger deal than it should be. Then again, here I am writing more about the selfie kid than the actual prospect at hand. That of course would be the baseball playing Ryan McKenna. The former fourth round pick from the New Hampshire prep ranks Ryan McKenna. The very same Ryan McKenna that was largely ignored by the industry, my self included, coming into the season. So much so, that he was left off the Baseball America system Top 30 entirely. That’s the Orioles list too, which coming into the season looked as barren as too be expected, outside the top 5 particularly. McKenna’s made a huge leap at the plate this year, in large part to improving pitch recognition skills. It’s not completely out of nowhere either, if you were paying attention to Delmarva late last season. He finished the season on a hot steak over his final 9 games hitting .324, before getting pegged in the back in the penultimate game of the season.

Some adjustments to his swing aided the effort, but the ability to not expand the strike zone, and grinding out at bats, has set him apart. A 70 grade runner, and true centerfielder, McKenna has a multitude of assets that should aid in his ultimate outcome. So far on the year he’s hitting .378/.466/.546, his walk rate has jumped from 8.1% in 2017 to 12.3%, and his strikeout rate has decreased from 24.2% to 15.2% year over year. His batting average on balls in play is a little high, but he has the wheels, and elite line drive rate to fuel that. He’s absolutely assaulted Carolina League pitching, currently leading the circuit in batting average (by nearly 60 points over Keston Hiura in about 40 more at bats), doubles, runs, OBP, Slugging, and wRC+. Coincidentally his basestealing has actually been his weak point, running at a sub 50% success rate.  I’ve heard Luke Siler dub him the fastest player in the system, and I take his word for it, Luke knows his O’s. So in closing, before we get into the rest of this odyssey, run, don’t walk, to pickup McKenna in dynasty leagues. This kid is upward graph emoji, fire emoji, eggplant. Here’s what else I’ve seen in the MiLB…

 

  • Jo Adell is a top 10 Fantasy prospect. It’s true, I can’t think of 10 players I could make a concrete case against him with. He’s in the midst of a 3-for-3 night as I write this, and is slashing .291/.347/.556 with 11 homers and 9 steals between low and high A ball. After starting off somewhat slow through his first ten games post promotion, slashing .190/.244/.500, he’s really turned it on his last ten, going .326/.341/.558. Plus speed, plus hit, plus power, make Adell a monster in the making. Though you’d like to see more walks following the promotion to Inland, it’s important to keep in mind he’s been a professional ball player for just about 12 months. Sky is the limit, don’t trade Adell.

  • Another prospect you should be looking out for in your 15 team or deeper dynasty leagues is the Blue Jays Miguel Hiraldo. A 17 year old phenom signed out of the D.R. for $750K last July 2nd, and considered one of the better bats in the class. So far the numbers in his brief professional debut in the Dominican Summer League have been superb. He’s slashing .381/.435/.690 with 2 homers, 11 runs, and 9 ribbies. His righthanded swing generates tons of power, blessed with quick hands, and a repeatable stroke. He’s surprisingly adept at covering tons of the plate. With a swing that starts with his hands high by his head, he has a similar pre-swing setup to Ronald Acuña. This is a name to add, stash, file away, invite to Thanksgiving. This kid is the goods. Behold…

  • Looks like you’re going to have to wait until next year, possibly September at best to see Eloy Jimenez. Rick Hahn pumped the breaks pretty hard on that, essentially saying that Eloy will see some time at AAA. It makes sense too, at this point there’s no reason to rush him, as much as many of our dynasty teams would appreciate it. He’s obviously ready for promotion, slashing .315/.364/.558 with 10 homers, and 41 RBI in 50 games. He has been cold over his last few weeks, but I’d expect him to snap out of it, and pad those numbers some more.
  • Guess who’s back? Actually don’t guess. It’s Nick Senzel! After his latest bout with vertigo, I wanted to make a dizzy joke there, but it’s in poor taste, and I own him all over. Well, he’s been back for two weeks or so. Suppose that makes it old news, but he’s REALLY been back of late. Going 10-for-19, over his last four games with a trio of doubles. Senzel should be up sometime this summer, has the ability to play multiple infield positions, and fill up the stat sheet in the process.
  • Welp, the first AA start for Jonathan Hernandez didn’t go as planned. Not too much to worry about, he’ll bounce back.
  • Did anyone see Forrest Whitley’s debut? It was phenomenal. He was throwing his varied arsenal for strikes, changing eye levels, generating tons of whiffs. Oh what’s this? Surprise, surprise, he did the same damn thing last night, still limited to four innings a turn, until he builds his arm back up, he dominated. He’s now allowed 3 hits in 8 innings, walking 2, and striking out 11. He mixes an easy mid-high 90s heater with movement, two nasty breaking balls, a changeup, and a cutter. He’s 20 all season, and gets great extension, repeats his mechanics, and shows no flaws in his delivery. Look at this. This dude is huge at 6’7, a lean 240 lbs, and he’s so fluid and athletic for a big man. Look at this hook!

  • Back from the DL, again, Brusdar Graterol got a little roughed up last night. He went 4, surrending 3 runs, most of the damage coming on Jazz Chisholm dong. Bound to be a bad start here and there, but the injury risk is immense with Graterol. I’m sick of being burned by hard throwing, injury prone sex pots. How about you? Nevermind my feelings, he’s awesome.
  • I talked about Brent Rooker on last week’s podcast, and he’s kept up his hot hitting, homering on Sunday, and slashing, .333/.426/.627 in June. It was only a matter of time before he broke out, but this is the type of player Rooker will likely be. Streaky, but great for stretches. He has a lot of Jay Bruce in him. I can’t be the only one that sees this. Not now Jay Bruce, hopefully young, exciting Jay Bruce, before the Mets ate him.

  • The Tigers top prospect Franklin Perez is working his back from a Lat injury. As reported by The Athletic’s Emily Waldon he’s slated to throw 30-35 pitches today, and has reported no setbacks.
  • The Reds Hunter Greene is showing signs of life. Not that we ever should have really doubted a teenager over a rough adjustment period. Over his last four starts he’s allowed just 4 earned runs, struck out 24, and pumped 100 MPH fastballs. In fact he hit 101 10 times on Saturday, dropping in his slider and offspeed stuff for strikes. Here’s a handful of Greene pitches from our boy @ProspectGifs.

  • Ever heard of Blaze Jordan? Nah, he’s not Wiz Khalifia’s protage, he’s the top player in the 2021 class, and was showcasing some serious skills at the Perfect Game Jr. Showcase. He’s had exit velocities in the 100’s and he’s 15 years old! He ripped a double off a breaking ball, and can get around on velocity. Going to be an interesting prep name to look out for the next couple years. Fun to add now in an open universe. Oh BTW, he also throws 93 MPH on the mound.
  • Lance is on a soul-searching tour of the heartland and took in a Winston-Salem game this week. He just so happened to catch the resurrected Luis Alexander Basabe. Otherwise known as, the good Basabe. Traded alongside Michael Kopech, and Yoan Moncada in the Chris Sale deal, Basabe had a rough adjustment period in 2017. He’s always flashed above average on-base ability, power, and speed. Basabe’s an elite defensive talent, and a player that should have value as an everyday centerfielder. He’s hitting the ball in the air more this year and has ramped up his walk rate to a tasty 13.2%. He’s never going to hit .300, but a .250, 20/20 guy with a 10% Bb% has a lot of value.

  • Who the hell is Luis Rengifo? He’s a sweet hitting shortstop the Angels acquired from the Rays in the C.J. Cron deal. He raked at High A, slashing .323/.426/.466, and has upped the ante since being promoted to AA Mobile slashing .343/.432/.571, he’s additionally stolen 22 bases over both levels on 31 attempts. There’s more pop in the bat than many expected, and he’s got the defensive tools to stick at short. Rengifo is a switch hitter, with a compact swing that sprays the ball to all fields, and rarely strikes out. Could be a pop up guy, but doing what he’s doing at 21, with the D to back it makes me a buyer.
  • Possibly the quietest breakout of the year is Alex Kirilloff. Royce Lewis, and even Akil Baddoo get headlines, but the star of the Cedar Rapids squad is Kirilloff. Recovered from Tommy John Surgery, and with a yoked up lower half, Kirilloff is the best player in the Midwest League. That’s not even a stretch, it’s an easy call. When you factor in that this is first full professional season, the level of talent we’re dealing with really gets put into perspective. Kirilloff was already a top 100 prospect, but I think he’s a legit top 50 guy. He’s hitting .321/.379/.581, with 11 homers, and 51 RBI in 61 games. Here’s some video from Matt Thompson of Friends With Fantasy Benefits.

  • On last night’s baseball show we talked a lot about the Mets Justin Dunn, who’s coming off a strong AA debut. Jason Woodell, otherwise known as @JasonAtTheGame, was really selling the improved changeup, and his ability to use it in two strike counts. With Dunn’s plus slider, and high velocity fastball he could be on the fast track to Flushing with the way things are going. Watch the show, and checkout the timestamps here!
  • I’m going to be doing a Reddit AMA tomorrow from 2-4 PM EST. I’ll link it here when it’s up, so you can go in and hit me with as many questions as possible.
  • Oh hey, what’s that Tyler O’Neill aka “King In The North” went double dongs last night for the 4th time this season? He now has 18 homers between AAA, and the majors in 2018, and could easily hit cleanup for a grip of MLB teams. I’ve professed my love enough, what else do you want me to say? He’s the most underrated impact fantasy bat in the minors.
  • Just got news that the Mets have promoted Peter Alonso and Jeff McNeil to AAA Las Vegas, with Dom Smith in Flushing, and A-Gon, way gone, Alonso is an injury away from the show. Psssst, he’s a better fantasy option than Smith IMO, unless Smith finds 30 homer pop. Alonso has got that.
  • I’m adding the Diamondbacks Taylor Widener anywhere I can. He went 6 last night and punched out 12, and allowed 5 baserunners. His K% is at 33% at AA Jackson, and he looks like a steal in the Brandon Drury trade. The righty mixes a mid-high 90s fastball with cut movement, an average slider, and changeup, gets great extension, and fools hitters. I’ve added Widener in all formats and his bat missing ability might push him to the majors by year end.

  • When your team trades for a second baseman/utility guy like Brad Miller in a playoff race (can we call it that in mid-June?), and you’re last year’s first round pick, in AA in your first full season, and hitting .378/.440/.578 in your first 12 AA games. It’s likely you’re going to see some time at the MLB level. Even better Hiura has played 11 of 12 games at second base. This was the biggest point of concern for his MLB prospects in 2018 due to his 2017 elbow injury. Fully recovered, Hiura is pushing toward an August debut IMO, maybe sooner if he hits like this for the next month. One of, if not the best, second base prospect in the game. Contact, on base, power, and some sneaky speed make Hiura a must add in all dynasty leagues. He capped a 3-for-4 night last night with this walkoff blast.

BTW: Get your Prospect Jesus and Grey Albright Tout Wars Champ shirts here!

Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus

  1. P says:
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    Jo Adell or Luis Robert?

  2. b the esq. says:
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    Forrest Whitley or Michael Kopech in a keeper for this year and for the future?

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @b the esq.: Whitley #1!

  3. sport says:
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    Florial still a top 20 or 25 to you?

    On a redraft note, Machado a must trade at this point in an AL only or take the chance he sticks in the AL?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @sport: He’s down into the mid-30’s for me.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I think only if you get the right deal.

    • Sport says:
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      @sport:

      Aaaand another Yahoo snub in Ryan McKenna.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Sport: LOL

  4. Duh says:
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    Is this Sano guy in Single A ball going to be good?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Duh: Strikes out too much I heard.

  5. Thorbs says:
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    Great write-up, so many updates on guys I follow and some new names!

    I’m rostering some of your greatest hits and am in first place in a 12-team, 10×10 dynasty: Robles, Riley, Marsh, I Diaz, Verdugo, Stewart, Duplantier and Hernandez.

    For an idea of prospect availability, I dropped Maitan for Diaz after seeing the Longenhagen Tweet about Maitan’s chunkiness and F’d mechanics and he was snapped up instantly.

    Would you swap any of my guys for McKenna, Hiraldo or Widener? I was thinking Widener for Duplantier given the latter’s injury history, and McKenna for Marsh.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Thorbs: @Thorbs: I’d hold off on both! Thanks for reading bud!

  6. Ross says:
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    Any chance we see Whitley up this summer?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Ross: Slight, he’s so good, the Astros have had crazy good luck with pitcher health. He’s certainly the best arm they have.

  7. Schoolboy P says:
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    Should I be expecting Kyle Tucker anytime soon? I don’t want to miss on him, but I also don’t have a bench spot to spare right now.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Schoolboy P: I think we’re looking later on in the summer.

  8. babybacks03 says:
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    Got offered either Estevan Florial or Jesus Sanchez for Wade Davis in my dynasty league that I’m already out of the running in. Would you pull the trigger on either?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @babybacks03: Sanchez! Accept! He homered off Stroman last night. Haha

  9. Anthony says:
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    Why is Josh Naylor never ranked very high in prospect rankings? He’s having a very respectable year in AA. Young, good power, high avg, low k rate. What’s not to like?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Anthony: I think it’s the bad body first base only thing. He’s going to be a solid player and is certainly in my next Top 100 update.

  10. VegasJim says:
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    Hey Ralph, I recently traded Peter Alonso for Willy Adames in a dynasty league with Asdrubal Cabrera as my starter and no other prospects in the pipeline outside of Kingery whom has struggled this year. Am I going to regret this trade? Any chances Yordan Alvarez gets a call next year as a 1B due to the depth of talent in the outfield for the Astros? Can’t say thanks enough for everything you do, I have a stacked farm system due to your great advice.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @VegasJim: I like the Adames trade for you. You need real SS.

      As for Yordan likely not. He’s got to stay healthy and hit. If he comes back strong there’s a shot he’s up next year. Astros have no real need to push Tucker, Whitley, or Alvarez.

  11. Dougie says:
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    Im in an open universe league. I snatched up Victor Victor when he defected. There are some guys out there in the player pool that need to be owned and I curious of your opinion of him. Whats your gut say? Should I swap him out for, say, Hampson/India/Yusniel/Marsh? Thinking I can probably swap out Hays and Graterol a couple more of those 4.
    What do you think

  12. J-Dawg says:
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    “Pegged” in the back? You sure you aren’t talking about Ronnie “The Limo Driver” Mund?!

  13. Richard Davis says:
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    Would you trade Haniger for Tatis Jr. in a keep all Dynasty? I’m competing this year, but have so much depth in the OF for now and future, and have no SS of future really and would love Tatis. Do you think he sticks at SS? Thanks for all the great info Ralph

  14. Mike L says:
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    Jo Adell, Keston Huira, Royce Lewis, Luis Robert, T. Trammell. Who makes the most impact in 2019 ? Ive got guys like Polanco, Conforto and Buxton and I am beyond frustrated with this OF. Im not ready to part with Buxton just because of his speed and D but the other 2 make me wonder. In a forever dynasty do you cut bait and make some moves or hold onto hope?

  15. dan says:
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    thoughts on akil baddoo progress this season? if you had to choose one, would you choose the hot hand of McKenna over Baddoo? Both look to have an eta of about 2020.

  16. Mihai says:
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    Hello Ralph! How would you rank Jahmai Jones, Jhalyz Ortiz and Monte Harrison now? In the last top 100 prospects Jones was #47, Ortiz #63 and Monte #38. Thanks!

  17. Quintero says:
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    Ralph, would you trade Haniger+Joc+Clint Frazier for Patrick Corbin in a dynasty? I’m trying to get Soto AND Acuna into my active lineup(first world problems). Or would you aim higher?

    Thanks!

  18. Joe says:
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    Hey Ralph who do you prefer in order in a dynasty league

    Meadows, sano or Tyler O’Neill. And do you love any of them drastically more than the other rhanks

  19. jose H says:
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    Ralph,
    I was in the middle of a draft and about to make my last pick . I had already posted P Zach Eflin, but the pick was not official until 6 :00 A.M. this morning. I red what you said about Taylor Widener and went and fast forwarded threw his 12 Ks game and his 11 Ks and immediately changed my pick. This kid reminds me of De Los Santos and Soroka. He attacks the strike zone and keeps the hitters off valance and if he gets hit he does not crumble.

    I went to sleep because it was about 2:00 in the morning. When I woke up I fast forwarded threw the game before his 12 Ks game. This game impressed me even more than the other two. He did NOT have his best stuff that day, he gave up a HR to the first batter he faced, he walked three batters and ONLY K’d four, but yet he pitched into the six inning and ONLY gave up the one run.

    I knew there was something special about this kid, because you usually are not crazy about pitchers.

    Speaking of pitchers, I saw Bryce Wilson’s last game and fell in love with him, he is much better than Kyle Wright. He was 92-96 MPH and he was actually blowing the 92 by hitters, when Wright couldn’t do it with 96-97.
    I remember Lance had talked him up in one of the podcast and decided to watch and was REALLY impressed.

  20. Deepest Fantasy League in the Midwest says:
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    In a crazy deep fantasy league with our prospect draft this week. All eligible players are those not yet in the Yahoo player pool, so mostly 2018 draft picks and a few others. I am going to list about 10 names and I was wondering if you could rank the top 5 for me (five round draft) If thats too much, just do your best, but I feel like you love doing stuff like this. Thank you! 6×6 Cat league (OPS and K/BB)

    Travis Swaggerty PIT
    Cristian Pache OF ATL
    Jorge Guzman LHP MIA
    Tristen Lutz OF MIL
    Brusdor Graterol RHP MIN
    Carter Stewart ATL
    Jarred Kelenic NYM
    Julio Pablo Martinez OF TEX
    Freudis Nova HOU
    Luis Medina NYY
    Jeter Downs CIN
    Noah Naylor CLE

  21. Deepest Fantasy League in the Midwest says:
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    Crazy deep fantasy league with our prospect draft this week. All eligible players are those not yet in the Yahoo player pool, so mostly 2018 draft picks and a few others. I am going to list about 10 names and I was wondering if you could rank the top 5 for me (five round draft) If thats too much, just do your best, but I feel like you love doing stuff like this. Thank you! 6×6 Cat league (OPS and K/BB)

    Travis Swaggerty PIT
    Cristian Pache OF ATL
    Jorge Guzman LHP MIA
    Tristen Lutz OF MIL
    Brusdor Graterol RHP MIN
    Carter Stewart ATL
    Jarred Kelenic NYM
    Julio Pablo Martinez OF TEX
    Freudis Nova HOU
    Luis Medina NYY
    Jeter Downs CIN
    Noah Naylor CLE

  22. David says:
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    Ralph, great stuff again! What do you think the ceiling is for Juan Soto? Thanks.

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