Cubs 1B Matt Mervis (24, AA) looks like a prototypical, left-handed hitting, middle-of-the-order masher at 6’4” 225 lbs who has already blasted 19 bombs in 66 games across High-A and Double-A this season. His strikeout rate has been around 24 percent at both levels along with .644 and .650 slugging percentages, but he has almost doubled his walk rate from 4.6 percent in High-A to 7.7 percent in Double-A. Gotta watch this one closely. Never-nervous Mervis got a little lost in the covid-draft chaos but raked in the wooden bat Northwoods League in 2018 and did the same in the wooden bat Cape Cod League in 2019. He looks more athletic to the eye test than the statsheet and profile might suggest.
Padres OF Esteury Ruiz (23, AAA) keeps doing his thing, but he’s also making adjustments, taking what pitchers give him and slashing .303/.425/.364 with five strikeouts (12.2%) and four walks (9.8%) over his past eight games. He’s stolen six bases without getting caught over that stretch. Go back 19 games, and he’s slashing .367/.479/.544 with three home runs and 17 stolen bases. I only mention this to counter some of the anti-Ruiz rhetoric I’m hearing in some corners of the chamber. Prospect value can be a roller coaster, and Ruiz was on the way up for a long time, but he’s now so high that many are predicting a plunge or saying it’s time to sell. Maybe it is, assuming you get something big.
I saw Ruiz traded as part of a Sandy Alcantara package in exchange for Mookie Betts, and if that kind of deal is available, then sure, go ahead and spin that wheel. If not, hold like the Scots in Braveheart. Thing is, you might prefer Ruiz to Betts a couple years from now. It’s not likely, but what we have here is a question mark, perhaps the most important question in all of dynasty baseball right now. Nothing Ruiz does in Triple-A will provide an answer. Nothing he does in his first month as a major leaguer will provide an answer. If this works out, we have a Top 25 redraft fantasy monster. If not, who knows, but I don’t think you should sell on hype the way you probably should with a lot of superfast risers from the deep.
Colorado OF Zac Veen (20, A+) is heating up with the weather, slashing .353/.476/.735 with two home runs, six stolen bases, five walks and five strikeouts over his last nine games. He’s been a streaky hitter in his career so far and might be just kicking off a long heater. He’s already hit ten home runs and stolen 30 bases in 68 games this year while maintaining strong plate skills (13.7% BB, 22% K). If I ran the Rockies, he’d be in AA by Monday.
Astros C Korey Lee (23, MLB) sounds like a character on Righteous Gemstones, and he might need some divine intervention to help our fantasy teams given his 70 wRC+ and .285 on base percentage in 65 Triple-A games. He has a short window before Yainer Diaz shows up to compete for a share of the catching job. The team was confident with shortstop Jeremy Peña this winter and might play a refrain on that plan behind the plate this off-season, relying on some combination of Lee and Diaz and learn as they go.
Giants 3B Jason Vosler (28, MLB) played second base on Saturday while Thairo Estrada sat due to illness. He’s not a natural at the four, but he looked okay faking it for a day, and that will be key to Vosler’s opportunities. He’s not a great defender anywhere, but he’s passable at the corners. Adding functionality at second base could be a pretty big help to his at bat totals.
Baltimore OF Heston Kjerstad (23, A) is back on the field after missing, well, his whole career to this point since being drafted second overall in 2020. Although he’s slashing .433/.500/.633 with two home runs in 16 games at the level, he’s been even better than that over his last seven. Should probably be in High-A by next Sunday. A couple weeks back, he was available in the 20-team Highlander Dynasty League that began this season. I doubt he got dropped in many places, but he might be available in 2022 start-ups. And even if he did get scooped, he might be available for a reasonable trade fee. I missed the Kjerstad free-agent boat in my chase of a 2022 Highlander title, or because I couldn’t find enough drops on that particular Sunday. Anyway, I’m regretting it right now. Might step out to send an offer here real quick and come back.
Rangers RHP Owen White (22, AA) made some noise in the Arizona Fall League and is back in black this summer, sporting a 1.69 ERA in two starts (10.2 innings) at Double-A. I think he’s a legitimate option for the club during the stretch run. Writing his name on the next stash list Maybe Group right now. Well, not right now. Hold on. Just then, now, a minute ago.
Padres 2B Matthew Batten (27, AAA) almost made a stash list or two, but it’s too late now as he’s made the big league club after slashing .299/.399/.504 with ten home runs and 13 stolen bases in 59 AAA games.
Cubs RHP Luis Devers (22, A+) is probably available in all your leagues, and maybe he should be, but he also got promoted to High-A this week after dominating a Low-A league that was a little young for him. With a few good starts at the new level, he’ll put himself in position for a 2023 debut as a 23-year-old with a knack for limiting home runs. International pitchers pop late. Never hurts to keep that in focus.
Royals RHP Luinder Avila (20, A) has allowed four hits and one earned run in his last 12 innings across two starts. He is having an up-and-down season but flashes big league topside and should be in High-A this autumn.
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