Baltimore SS Jorge Mateo has lived multiple lives on fantasy planet, first as a beloved but complicated Yankees farmhand, then as the primary rerun for Sonny Gray in Oakland, then as a utility piece scrambling for at bats in San Diego, and now as a human being with a pulse in Baltimore. I’m eager to see how this plays out. None of his previous organizations is particularly adept at actualizing their own prospects at the big league level. Baltimore isn’t the cat’s pajamas either in this regard, but unlike his previous clubs, the Orioles are in position to really invest in Mateo, both in terms of playing time and big league coaching. For his part, Mateo might well understand this could be it for him as a big leaguer. I wouldn’t say he’s had any singular career near-death experience, but he’s certainly been passed around enough to understand his clock is ticking. I’m not comparing him to Anthony Santander or Cedric Mullins, necessarily, but he’s in that mold as a player with talent that nobody expects to become a major league mainstay, and I think his natural gifts measure up well against either. He’s a buy for me in just about every league until proven otherwise.

The same goes for Pittsburgh OF Anthony Alford, who has mastered the minor leagues but will need some time to develop on a big league field. Here’s hoping the Pirates, who batted Alford cleanup yesterday, see enough in Alford to give him everyday run down the stretch. 

Cleveland RHP Cal Quantrill is not a prospect, but perhaps you remember some excitement about his newfound prospects when he was sent to Cleveland in the Mike Clevinger deal. I only mention him here because I think he snuck up on the fantasy world regardless of how predictable it is when Cleveland helps a young pitcher hit his 99th percentile outcome. Over his last five starts, Quantrill has 0.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 0.30 HR/9. Small samples and such, but over that stretch he’s faced Tampa, St. Louis, and Detroit at home and travelled to take on the A’s and White Sox. Offensive juggernauts, maybe not, but functional offenses all. Against a hot Detroit lineup last week, CQ went 7 shutout innings with 10 Ks and no walks. He’s gotten a bit lucky in the left-on-base department (91.5%) over the hot streak, but we’ve seen this happen in Cleveland so many times it would be foolish to ignore a potential breakout in progress. Sharp low–hanging trade target if that’s still an option in your leagues. I had to drop him in 15-teamer due to an IL squeeze but was still able to buy him back after that magical night in Motown. I had to pony up because I didn’t want to miss out, but I suspect he’d be cheap in most corners of the fantasy world. 

Recently promoted Cleveland LHP Francisco Perez was less effective in AAA (1.36 WHIP) than he had been in AA (0.63 WHIP), but his outcomes were still positive at the minors’ highest level (1.96 ERA) despite losing the grip on his command (5.89 BB/9). How he’ll fare in his first taste of the majors is anyone’s guess, but he’s a high-strikeout lefty with dominant stuff in Cleveland, meaning he’ll be a SV/HLD league asset as soon as he finds his footing. 

Cincinnatti SS Leonardo Balcazar is a 17-year-old playing in the Dominican Summer League, so we shouldn’t put too much stock in his outcomes. It’s only been 18 games, so there’s another reason to pretty much ignore what we’ve seen so far; nonetheless, he’s having zero trouble at the level, with 5 HR and 7 SB to go along with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts. The hardest thing to evaluate in the DSL is approach. The pitchers are wild, so a patient hitter might put up an incredible BB/K without really learning which pitches invite him to turn it loose and which pitches need to be ignored in the gray zone (K-zone fringe). I like what little we have here, with Balcazar taking his walks but maintaining the kind of aggressiveness I believe one needs to truly learn how to hit elite pitching. 

Chicago (NL) OF Owen Caissie is 19 and a month, so he’s the right age for the Arizona Complex League, but he seems to be a little beyond the competition there. Over 24 games, he’s slashing .363/.495/.675 with 6 HR and 1 SB. He’s also striking out 27.7 percent of the time, which isn’t bad enough to matter given the impact of his contact, but it does make me slightly concerned about his patience. You can just wait for walks and meatballs in some lower level leagues, and it’s never really a bad sign when a young hitter can do that; it just means they’ll have to add some aggression and contact ability as they climb the ladder. I’d like to see Caissie spend the last month in Myrtle Beach but suspect Chicago brass will just let him mash in glorified scrimmages until the off-season. 

Don’t forget about Los Angeles (AL) SS Kyren Paris. Since coming off the IL on July 29, the French capital has hit the first two home runs of his career along with a .318/.500/.591 slash line, 7 walks, and 7 strikeouts. I have ranked him as high as 60th in my top 100, and now that he’s back on the field and tapping into his power potential, the top 25 beckons. He’s 19 now and will likely play his way out of Low A over the final five weeks. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

26 Comments
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MARK
MARK
11 months ago

Keeper league trade
I give up Machado and Duran for Torres and Torkleson.

Thoughs?

Scott
Scott
11 months ago

Hi Itch, I love reading your content. You always put so many players on my radar that I am unaware of. Do you spend anytime following foreign leagues like Japan and Korea and if so do you have any recommendations on players that may get posted or come to MLB soon. I know knowing when a guy will come to MLB , if they ever do, is really tough to predict. Thanks

Moon Shots
Moon Shots
11 months ago

Howdy Itch!

In 30-team dynasty i traded Brinson for Orlando Arcia and Steven Duggar at the deadline. Not the most earth shattering trade, but curious if you have any thoughts on it. Best regards!

TarmanGotHim
TarmanGotHim
11 months ago

I’m telling you Itch, don’t sleep on Griffin Conine. Right after you mentioning he should be promoted to AA, he was a couple of weeks late and albeit he was hitting like .05 and K ing a ton the first 2 weeks he’s been playing quite well. He claimed to have worked on his swing and plate discipline in the offseason and it’s showing.

I’m such a believer haha!!

So in my keeper league where I believe it will be keep 7, I wasn’t enamored with my keepers and my draft. I’m coming off a CC season and I’ve won the league twice and placed 2nd and non place the other 2 seasons. I was getting nailed the first 10-12 weeks. My team was ice cold and I was having video game like numbers put up against me.

I went from near last place to 7th and 1.5 games out of a playoff spot with 5 weeks to go and beat the 1st place team in a 12 Team H2H 6X6 HR R RBI SB OPS AVG QS K:9 S+H ERA WHIP K Yahoo league.

I had to make some serious moves to focus on the future and I have. These are the 3 major trades I made

I traded:

Kelenic, Chad Green
For
Yelich, Pearson, and Votto (I dropped Pearson and Votto and this QS at the start of Vottos hot streak and I made the trade for Yelich, what a mistake on all ends)

Then

I just traded with the same guy (he does the all closer thing for some reason hence why adding too relievers seals the deal for some trade with this guy)

My Albies, Abreu (I have Olson and needed to trade Abreu for the future), and McGee
For
Bryce Harper, Max Muncy, and Trent Grisham

Then today I just traded

My Yelich and Framber
For his
Luis Robert’s

This is my new roster
C – D’Arnaud
1B – Olson
2B – Muncy
3B – Escobar
SS – Swanson
OF – Soto
OF – Harper
OF – Roberts
UTIL – Grisham
UTIL – Avisail
B – Straw
B – Moncado
IL – Jazz

It’s a deep league so I like to have 2-3 BB and it’s 74 max adds so I’m at 65, I made some hesitant moves and used a lot when I was getting killed and trying to win categories.

SP – Manoah
SP – Eovaldi
SP – Stroman
SP – Marquez
SP – Mahle
SP – Maeda
SP – Patino
SP – E-Ros
IL – Bieber
IL – Pablo
NA – Trevor Rogers
NA – Nick Anderson
RP – Bender
RP – Sewald
RP – Tepera
RP – Genesis
RP – Whitlock

I don’t love my SP especially as my top 3 pitchers are injured or NA’d, but it looks like I’ll be getting them back soon enough and I simply made mistakes which is rare and got so many underperformers in Bundy who I dropped, Maeda and I actually picked up and then dropped Bassit and Hendricks amongst a few other regrets.

Sorry for rambling, but my other question is would you try to flip Moncado for a SP? Obviously I don’t need him and Muncy will be my3B next season.

Also, would you pick up Zac Gallen? He was dropped.

So basically how did I do with the string of trade?

Would you flip Yoan?

Would you pick up Gallen?

Also, do these look like the right keepers?

1) Soto – OF
2) Harper – OF
3) Robert – OF
4) Olson – 1B
5) Muncy – 3B
6) Bieber – SP
7) I’m torn, I wanna keeper Rogers – SP but I have Grisham and Swanson and am leaning towards Swanson. I know I can redraft Jazz as I’m really high on Jazz and my OF is set so I don’t really need Grisham. But I would like to go into next season with 2 aces. Bieber is for sure and albeit this season I draft pitching well and do my homework. Like next season I’m already high on the guys you guys probably are high on like McLanahan, Kap, Ynoa, Gilbert, Manoah, etc.

Thanks Itch!! Hope I didn’t ramble too much lol.

scoboticus
scoboticus
11 months ago

Jung or Miranda?

Prawn Lord
Prawn Lord
11 months ago

Hey Itch, thanks for putting Mateo on my radar!
Got two dynasty questions for you. Apologies if you’ve already mentioned him, but what do you think about Carlos Hernandez? He looked great the other day.

Also, would you target Bellinger as a buy low, or think his best days are behind him?
Thanks!

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
11 months ago

Hey Itch,

Will the Reds call Jose Barrero (formerly Garcia) back up to The Show this season? He’s dominated AA and AAA. Seems like it’s time to give him another look. Think he’s a September call up? I know they don’t expand rosters, but the MiLB season ends then, so seems plausible if not likely.

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  Harley Earl
11 months ago

Actually, the MiLB schedule runs through September this year. Didn’t realize that. Still, think Jose gets the call?

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
11 months ago

Makes sense. Maybe he stays down and they win/lose without him. I’m good with that.

David
David
11 months ago

Great stuff as usual, Itch. Pull out your crystal ball and give a name or two that you think may close in the not too distant future. Thanks

G
G
11 months ago

Think Riley Greene plays at all this year?

Umpy70
Umpy70
11 months ago

Love your stuff Itch

Quick Question. Do you do any lists that provide which prospects would make the most impact for ROS or heading into 2022 season. Not necessarily TOP prospects, but the top prospects ready to make their way into the league. Most top prospects like Brujan etc are long gone, but I did pick up Miranda hoping for some impact for next season. Do you keep a rolling list for ROS and guys ready to get called up?

Screwballs
Screwballs
11 months ago

Need some help in with too many NAs in a keeper league. Can you rank for this year and long-term the following players:

Thario Estrada
Kiriloff
Josh Jung
Josh Lowe
Shane Baz
Edward Olivares
Laurano
Keston Hirua

Thanks in advance.

Screwballs
Screwballs
Reply to  Screwballs
11 months ago

Too many names? How about the top 2-3. Thanks!

Screwballs
Screwballs
Reply to  The Itch
11 months ago

Thanks!

Malicious Phenoms
Malicious Phenoms
11 months ago

Great writeup Itch. Big Mateo fan here, hope he can put it all together in Bmore. Added him in fantasy. Also like Alford, but will wait on adding, still striking out a bunch. 8 times in 3 mlb games.

Ukr
Ukr
11 months ago

Thanks Itch! Love your stuff.

I know you’ve been big on Curtis Terry, so SSS and nothing to worry about on the major league level and worth the stash in deeper leagues?

Also any thoughts on Texas’s other farmhand up in the bigs Yonny Hernandez? Can he be a league average hitter with a elite plate discipline and no power?