Two weeks ago the 2019 Astros prospects list published. One of the more difficult players to figure from that group was Forrest Whitley. He’s one of the most talented arms in the minors, but simply didn’t pitch much in 2018 due to suspension and injury. That’s where leagues like the AFL (Arizona Fall League) and LIDOM (Dominican Winter League) come in handy. They give us an extended look at prospects that would otherwise be haunted by question marks heading into spring training. So far, Whitley’s numbers in the AFL should quell any fears. Through two games started with the Scottsdale Scorpions, he’s struck out 14 batters in seven-plus innings while allowing just three free passes and two earned runs. Those are the ace-like numbers his fantasy owners need in their life, and they were enough to earn him Pitcher of the Week honors. Here’s what else is happening around the offseason leagues…
J.B. Bukauskas – Like his teammate Whitley, Bukauskas is off to a torrid start in the AFL with a 9/2 K/BB ratio in just over seven innings pitched. I still think he ends up in the bullpen, but I may have underestimated how well his stuff could play as a closer.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. – Through seven games, Vlad Jr. already has five doubles and nine runs batted in with an OPS of 1.248. It’s been a minute since I remember so many stud prospects converging on the majors at the same time. Vlad, Tucker, Rodgers, Jimenez, Robles, Senzel, and Bichette to name a few. It’s going to be a good year for redraft leaguers who like to spec on specs.
Jahmai Jones – The offseason leagues also provide a chance for players to take extra reps at new positions, and that’s the case with Jones. He made the switch from outfield to second base this season and it’s looking like that could be a permanent move. It’s good news for fantasy owners, since his offense would be a bit more useful from a middle infield slot.
Nick Heath – This post should also be titled “fun with small sample sizes”, but I can’t help but notice when a guy hits .444 with nine steals in six games. I also can’t help but notice that I need a new pair of pants after every episode of The Haunting of Hill House.
Lucius Fox – While we’re on the subject of speed, Fox has five swipes so far in the AFL to go along with a homer and 1.106 OPS. I’m a sucker for speedy switch hitters who play up the middle, so this guy is my ideal.
Jordan Yamamoto – In the deeper dynasty formats where all of the obvious prospects are already owned, there’s pressure to find the good ones outside the top tens. Yamamoto had a solid 2018 season, and he’s continued to pitch well through his first two games for Salt River – striking out 11 batters in six innings.
Carter Kieboom – It’s not all sunshine and roses through the first week or two of play. The Nationals prospect is hitting just .105 with six strikeouts through six games for Salt River. On a positive note, he does have seven walks and a triple. I like Kieboom’s offensive profile for fantasy, especially if he can stick on the left side of the dirt.
Taylor Trammell – Another favorite of mine is also struggling in the early fall. Trammell already has seven strikeouts in seven games compared to just a pair of walks. Nothing to jump off the Purple People Bridge over, just a meh start given his tools.
Darwinzon Hernandez – The Red Sox hurler has already punched out fifteen batters while walking just two in six innings of work for Mesa. Wednesday Mike would have a clever quip about evolution here, but Sunday Mike is a creationist.
Victor Robles – Switching gears to the Dominican, Robles is off to a hot start for Aguila, hitting .471 with a 1.088 OPS through four games. The toolsy outfielder is one of the best prospects in the game and an obvious play in redrafts this spring. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched Robles play on a 240 kbps stream from the Dominican and the only word you know how to translate is “beisbol”.