One of the things I’m tasked to do around these parts, is to identify the ETAs of some of the best and brightest prospects. Often the most difficult part of my job is weighing need vs service time vs development for each of their respective clubs. Sometimes numbers, even in the high minors, can be deceiving. Not to mention, each team has a unique approach to its handling of home grown talent. One player I’ve been asked about, almost as much as any in 2018, is the Astros Kyle Tucker. While Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick, Josh Reddick, and Marwin Gonzalez split time in the Houston outfield, Tucker waits. The waiting game however, has not halted Tucker. Instead, he’s been in full fledged assault-mode the past few weeks, slashing a silly .400/.444/.650 with 9 runs, 8 RBI, a homer, and a perfect 4-for-4 on the basepaths. The lefthanded hitting Tucker has the ability to contribute in a full 5 categories in roto leagues, bringing an advanced approach, and a swing conducive for power growth. He’s worth stashing and streaming in RCLs, on the off chance he gets the call, and is 100% a priority stash in deeper mixed leagues, though he’s likely owned. Tucker is a top five fantasy prospect at the moment and needs your attention. Here’s what else I’ve seen over the past few days.
— Koby Farries (@kobyf98) June 16, 2018
- Welcome back Mr. Francisco Mejia! Just when you were starting to worry he was close to retirement (joking), he totally redeems himself! Over his last 10 games, Mejia is hitting .429/.429/.762 with 3 homers and 15 RBI. So it’s been a power outburst for Mejia, but no walks in ten games ain’t great. There was a brief MLB callup mixed in, which isn’t a bad sign. If a few injuries were to happen in Cleveland he could see significant playing time. Still an iffy stash in redraft at the moment.
Bye bye, baseball. #Indians top prospect Francisco Mejia (@FranMejia95) absolutely demolishes this onel for a grand slam. @CLBClippers @Indians
WATCH: https://t.co/fO5ETaQVNK pic.twitter.com/FMVtqhIUiX
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 17, 2018
- You know who doesn’t get enough love? The White Sox Dane Dunning, all he’s done is push since being promoted to AA Birmingham. In fact, over his last 9 starts since May 1st he’s 4-2, with a 2.58 ERA, 61 Ks to 17 Bbs, over 52.1 IP. He’s 8th in the Southern League in SwStr% over that time with a 12.1% mark. Dunning leans heavily on a mid-90s fastball, that tops out at 96. The pitch is defined by it’s heavy sink, generating lots of weak contact. His secondaries start with a two-plane slider, that gets swings and misses, and an above-average/average changeup he mixes in to lefties. He commands his arsenal well, and shows mature pitchability, and sequencing.
- Coming out of Mississippi State I thought Dakota Hudson would be an exciting pitching prospect, with the ability to miss bats. In his brief 2016 professional debut he did just that. But 2017 was a much different story, as Hudson sported some of the lower K rates in the upper minors. There’s been improvement this year, as he stands at a still below average 18.2%. He is however generating tons of groundballs, and keeping runs off the board. He still walks too many batters, and doesn’t strikeout enough to be anything more than a backend of the rotation type. He’s been surging of late with scoreless outings of 6 innings or more in 3 of his last 4 starts.
- A promotion was not going to stop the Astros Cristian Javier from continuing his breakout 2018. He went six no hit innings, walking three, and striking out 5. Of his 90 pitches, 54 were strikes, with 14 swinging strikes and 8 taken. He’s added a changeup to repertoire, using it 16 times on Wednesday. His fastball is an interesting wrinkle to his early success and a point of debate. He’s added a few ticks to it, but it sits low 90s, leading many to write it off. It’s his willingness to throw it up in the zone, and the command of the pitch that helps it play up. He’s got a pair of above average breaking balls as well, giving him four pitches, and a few ways to gets swinging strikes.
- Hey there Paul Martin, I’m writing about Will Craig! He’s finally shaking the below average power production stigma at AA Altoona. He connected for his 10th of the season last night, totaling 2 more in 60 games this season, than his career total in the 186 professional games prior. He’s made some obvious adjustments to his swing, adding loft in the process. The results bear this out, as his FB% has jumped 21% year over year. He’s striking out more, and walking a little less, but both numbers are still in respectable territory. His ability to balance the two have put him back on the relevant prospect map.
- The Reds Nick Senzel homered last night, his first since returning on May 29th. Lance got some live looks at him, as seen below, and remarked on how well he stayed inside on everything.
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBrozdow) June 14, 2018
- Is the Diamondbacks Jamie Westbrook back from the dead? I haven’t thought about this guy since 2016, but he’s still just 23 in AA. The numbers have been good in his second taste of the the level, as he’s flashed the most power we’ve seen from the diminutive outfielder. Formerly a second baseman, all of Westbrook’s starts have been in the outfield. He’s a big swinger for a smaller player, and uses his lower half well to drive the ball. He does have a pretty serious hitch, and does have a tendency to get under pitches a little too much.
- I’ve wanted to talk about the Dodgers Rylan Bannon for awhile, but haven’t had the time until now. The 22 year old was an 8th round pick out of Xavier, with a reputation for getting on base and hitting for power. He’s done just that in high-A Rancho this year slashing .280/.385/.557 with 15 homers and 44 RBI in 66 games. His swing is pretty funky, with a really high front leg kick, that moves almost in an L motion before his front foot lands. He has a lot of natural loft in his swing, and does a good job of staying back on the ball.
- Another player Lance caught on his scouting drive out to Chicago, was former prep star Blake Rutherford. The highly touted former Yankees First Round pick has been hot at the plate of late, slashing .333/.359/.556 over his last ten. The tools, sweet swing, and natural ability are there. If he can get to more of his power without sacrificing his approach, Rutherford will break through the Top 100 discussion, and into the top 50 discussion.
- Another player everyone is catching is Seuly Matias. Lance saw him earlier last week, while Jason Woodell was in the building for home run #21 on Friday night. Seuly followed that up with #22 off the bat last night, to push his MiLB lead. Now for the bad news; despite the light tower power, Lance was pretty adamant that the approach issues are concerning. He swings at everything, and gets his barrel on a lot of it. When he does, the ball goes a long way. As I’ve said before, the Royals have the luxury of taking it slow with Seuly. Expect him to spend the majority of his season in Lexington.
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) June 16, 2018
- A big night on Saturday for under the radar Red Sox prospect Lorenzo Cedrola. The 20 year old outfielder went 4-for-4, with a double and three RBI. He’s pushed his average to .333 on the season, and though he hasn’t homered of yet, he has flashed developing gap power, and some foot-speed. Cedrola doesn’t look like a 20/20 guy, but he can hit, and has just enough power and speed to be a fantasy relevant player.
- Everyone that takes in Chad Spanberger of the Rockies comes away impressed by the raw power from the left side. I’ve heard 70 raw a few times and all he’s done is mash since entering proball. He entered last night’s contest at 36 homers in 523 plate appearances, and went deep again last night to push that number to 37. There’s some holes in Spanberger’s swing, and almost all of his damage comes vs. RHP. Looks like a guy who might struggle once he sees pitching at the upper levels, but has a shot at a strong-side platoon bat role.
— Dan Victor (@slydanno70) June 10, 2018
- In the same game that Spanberger hit his 18th, the 19th pick in the 2017 Draft, Heliot Ramos, was having one of his better games of the season. The 18 year old went 4-for-5, with a double and a steal. He’s slashing a respectable .263/.364/.447 over his last ten, and showing signs of improvement at the plate. It’s going to be a season of struggles and adjustments for Ramos. Don’t jump ship, there’s a very exciting talent in the making.
- One of the best hitting catchers in the minors is the Rays Ronaldo Hernandez. The backstop launched two homers last night for Bowling Green, rounding his total to 10 on the season. The 3-for-4 effort pushed Hernandez’s season slashline to .307/.353/.530. The 20 year old’s defense is solid enough to keep him behind the plate, but if he was pushed to first base, the bat might play.
- It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses in Luis Robert’s stateside debut. Last night’s 2-for-4, 2 steal effort for Kannapolis was a step in the right direction. He’s appeared in 12 games so far, and is yet to homer. No reason to panic yet, as Robert shakes off the rust.
- Quietly MacKenzie Gore has posted consecutive scoreless efforts after going 3 innings for Fort Wayne last night. He allowed one hit, struckout 5, and walked no one in the 39 pitch effort. He reportedly had great command of his entire arsenal, ramping his fastball up to 95.
— Chris Ryan (@ChrisRyanFWnbc) June 17, 2018
- The biggest name among the short season assignments is Texas Rangers million dollar bonus Cuban Julio Pablo Martinez. He’s fresh off a stint in the DSL where he slashed .409/.606/.682 in 7 games, and looks to carry that momentum stateside. Should be interesting to see how quickly Martinez moves. A final destination of Down East of the Carolina League isn’t out of the question.
- The Astros first rounder Seth Beer wasted no time announcing his presence in pro-ball, connecting for a homer in his first game. He wouldn’t be the first talent to lose some shine leading up to his Draft year only to rediscover his swing. Who knows, maybe Beer is the long lost savior at first for the Astros.
— Mark Singelais (@MarkSingelais) June 16, 2018
- A trio of interesting pitching prospects received short season assignments this week. The Pirates Shane Baz joins, the Rangers Hans Crouse, and the Blue Jays Eric Pardinho. All three are high end talents, with both Crouse and Baz alumni of the 2017 Draft, while Pardinho is a 5’10 Brazilian phenom with a big fastball, and a nasty hook. Names to be on the lookout for.