Baseball TwitterX was peppered with Prospect Crush lineups last week, and while I’m not sure I could articulate the definition of “crush” in this context, I thought the idea was interesting enough to build an article around as we near the tail end of the minor league season. I mean I almost dropped my own squad into Elon Musk’s private hype site before I realized I was pouring a lot of time into generating content for everyone’s favorite space invader.
Baltimore C Samuel Basallo
Most seasons, the truest answer here is nobody. Prospect crushes on catchers are bad business, generally speaking. Yainer Diaz, Freddy Fermin, and Ryan Jeffers are all pretty solid examples of finding value just by reacting. To get Diaz, you did probably have to be ahead of the curve, but he was drafted in the First-Year-Player draft of a competitive 15-team dynasty heading into 2023, so you probably didn’t have to burn a roster spot for long holding him. Basallo has earned this spot on the field by dominating both A-ball levels and reaching Double-A as a 19-year-old. I mentioned that I might try to trade him, but that would be more of a making-him-available situation than anything where I’m going out of my way to move him. He’s such a good hitter, and so is Adley Rutschman, that they could both be in the lineup most nights.
Paul Goldschmidt. Matt Olson. Pete Alonso. Most of the great fantasy first basemen are never ranked real high on public-facing prospect lists. They must mash to live. Ortiz has 33 homers in 109 games across two levels this year. The strikeout rate isn’t great (27 percent in 80 High-A games), but he’s young enough (21) to look past that for now because the power comes easily for Abimelec, who has a preternatural ability to identify pitches he can lift to the pull side.
Have to fuzz the lens a bit to get a crush-like feeling at second base, which is frequently where young shortstops wind up by the time they make the majors. My search was exhaustive and left me with a long list of wart-speckled contenders: Dodgers 2B Alexander Albertus, Diamondbacks 2B Jansel Luis, Cardinals 2B Thomas Saggesse, Athletics 2B Brennan Milone, Cubs 2B Matt Shaw, White Sox 2B Javier Mogollon, Brewers 2B Pedro Ibarguen. Rojas gets the nod because he posted a 115 wRC+ in 70 Low-A games as an 18-year-old, showcasing speed and power beyond his years and size. He may remain primarily a shortstop for a few years, but if he gets to the majors as a Cub, he’ll be joining a well-paid, veteran middle infield and would likely do so as a second-base utility type.
Not a big pile of contenders for all the feels at the hot corner. Might as well reach for the top shelf. He’ll finish up 2023 at 20 years old with 31 home runs across two levels, 20 of those coming in 80 Double-A games during which he slashed .314/.379/.557 with a 17.1 percent strikeout rate.
Rangers SS Sebastian Walcott
Have I picked too many named guys? As I said, I wasn’t real clear on the meaning of the word in this context, but it’s also true that Walcott would be my pick at this spot in most contexts. He’s got a long way to go, so it’s easy to overvalue guys like him in a startup scenario, but outside of that, I’m all in on kick-his-ass Seabass.
This spot probably took the least time: I’m checking in on Robinson more than any other player by long, long ways. He’s had a tough road to get here. They all do, I know, but they don’t all lose three seasons to legal and mental health issues–not to mention covid. He’s in Double-A right now after a three-day home run binge got him out of Low-A. He posted a 119 wRC+ in ten games at High-A in July. He’s striking out a lot, but he’s shown tremendous skill in producing above-average outcomes after missing so much time.
Takes the starting pitcher spot even if he retains a little relief risk born from long limbs and an unconventional delivery. The 6’7” 190 lb 21-year-old made it all the way to Double-A in his first full professional season, striking out 36 hitters in 21 innings there but posting a 5.57 ERA and issuing 16 walks. If that stretch opens a bit of a buying window in dynasty leagues, I’m peaking my head in there.
It’s been two and a half months and 25 innings since Guardians RHP Franco Aleman allowed an earned run. He’s recorded 39 strikeouts, allowed nine hits and permitted five walks over that stretch, posting a 0.56 WHIP. At 6’6” 235 lbs, Aleman features surprising arm speed and athleticism that allows him to repeat in rhythm. Emmanuel Clase is under contract forever (team options through 2028), so Duffman is more a holds-league play than anything.
Thanks for reading!