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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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. Slappy Jack says:
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    Jo Adell or Luis Robert
    which one for you Ralph?

    • Slappy Jack says:
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      @Slappy Jack: actually, I guess someone asked you this same question last week HA!
      so still Adell I guess?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Slappy Jack: Adell for me!

  2. Larry says:
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    Wham do you see Seuly debuting? 2021?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Larry: No early than that, how his development of strike zone awareness and approach comes along in the next few years will dictate that date.

  3. Jonas says:
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    Happy Father’s Day!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jonas: Thanks brother!

  4. coacher says:
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    2-year keeper league (5×5 roto OBP; sv+holds, QS) We have 2 minors spots. I have Vlad and Eloy.

    I need pitching (saves+holds, Ks, QS.
    If i lose Vlad I think I can pick up Adell. If Carrasco is healthy he can help me a lot. It would mean one less streaming spot more than likely….

    My RPs stink…been streaming the likes of Joe Kelly, Winkler, Barraclough, H.Rondon, T.Watson, etc.

    I am offered Carrasco and A.Chapman for Rodon and Vlad.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @coacher: I’d hold Vlad if you can keep him for the next two.

  5. jose H. says:
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    Ralph,
    I noticed another young pitcher in my watch list that is looking impressive and want to hear your opinion of him. It is LHP Will Stewart (20) of the A ball Phillies. He reminds me of a left handed Mike Soroka. He gets the ball and is ready to pitch quickly , he has a plan and attacks the strike Zone. He has like nine walks in 60 innings pitched and other numbers are good too.
    I also love that he gets tons of ground balls.

    I want to hear what you think of him.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @jose H.: I’ve heard a lot of the same, sinkerball guy that limits all contact. Low velo fastball, with plus command, really efficient with his pitches, he’s gotten out of the 6th in all but one of his starts and has yet to hit 100 pitches in any turn.

      • jose H. says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:
        Thanks Ralph.
        It seems like I have develop a pattern on the type of pitchers I like, low ERA, low WHIP, lots of ground ball and around a K per inning pitched. Of Course if I find a Reyes, a Beuhler or a De Los Santos that can blow 98+ by the hitters , i will take them too.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @jose H.: I like that approach. I’m becoming more partial to fly balls pitchers and guys that can elevate fastballs in the zone. One of the things I love about Cristian Javier is just that.

          • jose H. says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz:

            Cristian Javier is an AL player (Houston). I noticed that you have bias for AL players, it most be the Boston thing, being on the east coast.

            i am an “NL ONLY” owner. We can carry two max crossover players. Those are players who start on the NL and get traded to the AL. That is how I have Jimenez on my team.

            • Ralph Lifshitz

              Ralph Lifshitz says:
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              @jose H.: I don’t think so, I’m pretty high on the Padres, Braves, Brewers, Pirates Prospects. Go to a lot of Colorado AA games. I don’t have a preference, and don’t necessarily watch all the Red Sox games or read the local media. I’m not sure why you’re looking for bias where there is none. I promise I follow NL teams too.

              • jose h. says:
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                @Ralph Lifshitz:

                I APOLOGIZE !!!!!. you are CORRECT, I have a lot of your Padres recommendations and some Braves. I wrote without thinking it threw.

                SORRY RALPH!!!!!!

                • Ralph Lifshitz

                  Ralph Lifshitz says:
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                  @jose h.: Haha! No worries, I was watching the Braves yesterday when I read this!

  6. Captain James T Kirk says:
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    Has anyone seen Luis Urias play lately? Word is they have/had him trying out a new leg lift to try and tap into more power. Curious if that is the reason behind is recent slump and his increased strike outs.

    I’ll never understand why teams mess around with things that are not broken, I’d be very happy with a .300/.400/.425 slash line. Why mess with his approach just add a bit more power…that in turn will most likely cut into his average and onbase?!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Captain James T Kirk: I have and they did tweak the front leg. However before passing judgement I’m going to give him time to make it work. If he can get into 20 homer pop and manage to maintain his high contact approach he could be a force.

      • Captain James T Kirk says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        Thanks, Ralph!

        I assume he has not given up on it yet? The last week or so he seems to be improving. Still striking out more than usual, and the average not where you’d expect. But I won’t completely pass judgement yet. I just liked who he was. It was refreshing to see a kid who cared more about putting the bat on the ball and getting on base via hit or walk rather than swinging for the fences.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Captain James T Kirk: I think he can still be that player, but in order to be more than just Adam Kennedy he needs the pop. I saw the game on Tuesday or Wednesday and the kick was going strong.

          • Captain James T Kirk says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz:

            Good to hear! Thanks for the insight as always!

  7. Tyler Davíd says:
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    In a 10 team keep 15 forever league with 100 minor league players rostered is Triston McKenzie for Miguel Sano a fair trade? Or favors which side?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Tyler Davíd: Just due to the nature of pitching prospects I’ll take the Sano side, and hope he hits the slim fast.

  8. Miketron says:
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    Not only did Seth Beer make his debut, but Riley Pint is back too. Beer names and baseball go together so well. Who do you think is the better international pick in a 1st year player draft Julio Pablo or Victor Victor?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Miketron: Need to see Victor Victor, so i’ll reserve judgement until then. Starting to regret my decision to take Luis Robert over Jo Adell in the Razz30 FYPD, I’m actualky hoping to pick like 5-6 so I can take the dropper this year lol.

      You’re going to laugh, I was going to make the Beer and Pint joke, as Pint is in SS A-ball too. I’m going to get some Beer looks. Promise to post the video for you.

  9. Lincoln Hawk says:
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    Looking for long term investment types to add to my minor league roster… I’ve seen you tout Hiraldo recently… anyone else similar to him that I need to be aware of? Thanks! HFD!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Lincoln Hawk: Cal Mitchell

  10. Jake says:
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    Heard any talk about Jeisson, G.Arias, Antuna or Lutz? Seems like all just going through the motions but obviously all still getting acquainted. Was expecting some type of breakout or hot streak amongst them by now.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jake: Jeisson has had some hot streaks, he’s 18 with a 15.2% Bb% and 14 steals. Actually rocking a 106 wRC+, so he’s just above league average at 18. As for the group they’re young teenagers in full season A, sometimes it takes a little bit.

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

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dougie: How many prospects do you own? I don’t really have a handle of who is owned and who isn’t. List your team.

      • Dougie says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: First, happy Father’s Day to you.
        It’s a 12 team league with salaries and contracts which makes things a little funky but I won’t get into that part. Rosters are 40 man with 25 being active players and the rest are IR or minor leaguers. Other things that matter, 7×7 with BBs, fielding points, K9, Sv+HLD, blown saves- it’s H2h each cat is a win.
        Roster:
        C- Contreras
        1-Freeman
        2-Dozier
        SS-Gleyber
        3-Devers
        OF-JD
        OF-Bellinger
        OF-Nimmo
        DH-Cruz
        U-Votto
        Reserve- kingery
        IR- Acuña
        IR- Pollock
        IR- Donaldson
        Minors:
        Tucker, Hays, Bichette, Tatis, Peter Alonso, victor victor, Jesus Sanchez, trammel
        Pitchers:
        Starters: Bumgartner, Pat Corbin, Bauer, Pivetta, Maeda, McCullers, Stripling , Pax.
        Relief: devinski, peacock
        IR pitchers: Syndergaard, Luccese, Nelson, Ohtani
        Minors: Michel Baez, Whitley, Widener.

        Initial contracts are 3 years so grabbing a guy who’s 4-5 years out is fine, but I don’t get to take advantage of a super low salary.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Dougie: I’d cut Widener for India.

  12. Stumanji! says:
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    10 tm H2H keeper with a short bench. What kind of ETA are you expecting for Willie Calhoun? Everything I hear/read is that the Rangers aren’t chomping at the bit to promote him even though his bat seems ready.

    Better stash for this season: Calhoun, Tucker, Senzel?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I’d go Senzel, Tucker, and Calhoun. Willie is outside my top 50 for the first time in a year. I’m not cool with the mopping.

        • Stumanji! says:
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          @Ralph Lifshitz: Thanks, Ralph. I read your updates on certain guys, but do you have your top 50 overall prospects posted anywhere?

          • Ralph Lifshitz

            Ralph Lifshitz says:
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            @Stumanji!: Not recently updated.

  13. Oddball Herrera says:
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    Senzel played short yesterday, media has been treating it as a fait accompli that Gennett is traded, but since Scooter is around until 2020 why not at least try a Votto/Scooter/Senzel/Suarez infield? Every GM is going to bid on Gennett as if they are buying high anyway…

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Oddball Herrera: You know Scooter has the third best wRC+ at second, dating back to opening day 2017? Only Ramirez and Altuve are higher. Considering most of Ramirez’s games have been at third, it’s easy to call Scooter the #2 second baseman in the game the last season and a half. Don’t trade him, let’s see what that infield looks like, then you can make a decision when India is ready.

  14. 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!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @mihai: Jones, Harrison, Ortiz

  15. Another Dan says:
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    Thanks for all of the output. Is helping keep me ahead of the game (except in leagues where people read your columns).

    Best wishes,

    Another Dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Another Dan: Three Lions!!!!!!!!!

  16. Riz says:
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    Ralph,
    I’m 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)

    Cristian Pache OF ATL
    Jorge Guzman LHP MIA
    Brusdor Graterol RHP MIN
    Carter Stewart ATL
    Taylor Widener ARI
    Julio Pablo Martinez OF TEX
    Freudis Nova HOU
    Luis Medina NYY
    Jeter Downs CIN
    Noah Naylor CLE

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Riz: Pache, Julio Pablo, Graterol, Naylor, and Jeter Downs. The last one is close, but I’m inclined to go young hitter over pitcher. I’d rank the remaining arms Stewart, Medina, Guzman, Widener. Pache is the top pick for me, Julio Pablo has the most risk/reward. Graterol is awesome, but there’s injury risk. Nova is a talent with a lot of questions.

      • Riz says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: You da man, sir. Answered my question and then some. Thanks Ralph

  17. Sport says:
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    Of the the SP still in the minors it seems Forest and Kopech are the only SP1 or “Ace” caliber guys. From what I’m reading a lot of others are projected as SP2 or SP3. Probably a near impossible question but who do you see as the next SP1/ace type of guy after Forrest/Kopech?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Sport: Sixto Sanchez is going to be ranked higher than Kopech in my next update. Outside of him there’s MacKenzie Gore, Hunter Greene, Casey Mize is added to the list, Keller has the upside of a real life ace, but a low end fantasy one. Honeywell is still a prospect. Brusdar Graterol looks like that kind of guy if he can stay healthy. AJ Puk could be, but he has to come back from TJ.

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