Giants 2B David Villar (25, MLB) has started both games at the keystone since being promoted on July 4 and is looking at a stretch of open runway with Thairo Estrada and Brandon Crawford on the sideline. Could be brief, but the Giants are just one game over .500 as we near the mid-season point, and their offense needs a spark or two. Villar hit 21 home runs in 66 games at Triple-A this year, slashing .284/.409/.633 in the process. Easy pick-up anywhere you need infield help. He might be demoted in a week, but that’s life. Can’t let the unknowable future stop you from living in the present.
Red Sox RHP Brayan Bello (23, MLB) is being promoted to debut tonight against the Rays. He’s getting a fair bit of hype while pitching well in Triple-A (2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 72 K in 51.1 IP) and can be effective as a five-and-dive type, which would be more than enough to help the Sox weather their storm of pitching injuries. The smart money would bet against him being a big fantasy factor out of the AL East this year, but Boston is getting positive outcomes from a variety of pitchers this year, and Bello could play his way into a stretch-run rotation spot.
In 16 games at Double-A, Royals OF Tyler Gentry (23) is slashing .311/.389/.721 with seven home runs and a stolen base. He’s also got a 16.7 percent strikeout rate and 11.1 percent walk rate after slashing .336/.434/.516 with five home runs in 35 games at High-A. The 6’2” 220 lb Gentry was a third-round pick in 2020 after raking for two years at Alabama and is among the more underrated outfield prospects in baseball, although that’s probably about to change.
Phillies DH Darick Hall (26, AAA) provides an example of why we shouldn’t ignore anyone who’s performing well in AAA. There’s no such thing as a Quad-A player, is my view. Most guys with that label never got an extended run to adapt to the major leagues. And sure, some guys don’t have the bat speed or hand-eye coordination to hang with the best, but there’s no value in blanket terminology to bucket types of ballplayers just to set them aside.
Given Philadelphia’s depth in poor defenders who can hit, Hall seemed like a dead-end for fantasy until Bryce Harper landed on the IL. The day he was promoted, Hall batted cleanup. In the blink of an eye, his plus power and solid plate skills made him a must-add in just about every medium-deep fantasy format. Feel like I dropped the ball a bit on this one. He should’ve been making the stash lists, what with his 20 home runs and 131 wRC+ in 72 Triple-A games.
Prospect lists have been operating under a one-Duran minimum mandate for several years now, and that modus operandi won’t end with the graduations of Jhoan, Jarren, and Ezequiel. Dodgers RHP Carlos Duran (20, A+) stands 6’7”, weighs 230 lbs and throws in the mid to high nineties. He’ll turn 21 on July 31 and hasn’t allowed a run in five High-A starts this season. “Starts” kind of exaggerates the reality a bit because he’s only thrown 11 innings, but all he really needs to do is command the baseball. His plus fastball and double-plus slider will carry him through the middle minors without much trouble if he’s throwing strikes. If he’s hitting his spots and mixing in a functional changeup, he’ll be making headlines and pushing for a big league debut by this time next year.
Guardians OF Will Brennan (24, AAA) is a priority pick-up for me in any medium-deep league. What’s a medium-deep league? Good question. Hell if I know. Let’s say 70-ish outfielders started league-wide with maybe 150+ prospects rostered at any given moment. It’s mostly a talent thing because Brennan has proven too much for Triple-A pitchers, slashing .375/.452/.528 with three home runs and eight stolen bases along with his trademark plus plate skills (12% BB, 13.9% K). I suppose the club could play service games with him, which would mean holding him back until next spring and bringing him along for Opening Day in the hopes that can net them a draft pick by finishing Top 2 in Rookie of the Year voting. Seems optimistic to think he’ll be that kind of player, but Cleveland is notoriously ferocious with their efforts to maximize each spot on the 40-man roster, and Brennan is not on it. OF Nolan Jones is on the 40, and he’s played well enough to warrant a promotion in his own right. Think he might be with the taxi squad right now, actually. So I guess this is a roundabout way of suggesting you check for Jones then add Brennan if Jones is already on a roster, which he almost certainly is in leagues that size.
White Sox SS Colson Montgomery (20, A+) is making a play for the Top 50 on my next update. After forcing a promotion with a .425 OBP in Low-A, he’s slashing .394/.487/.637 with two home runs in nine games at High-A. His birthday is February 27, so he’ll be 20 all season and could finish the year in Double-A. He’s already 6’4” 205 lbs and profiles as a plus-hit, plus-power, plus-plate-skills force as soon as 2023.
Tigers SS Wenceel Perez (22, AA) has adapted well to his new level, doing pretty much what he did in High-A. His season-long line of .288/.365/.517 with 10 HR and 15 SB in 71 games is the clearest example I’ve seen of why I keep writing about him here. He’s a 5’11” 202 lb switch hitting middle infielder with power and speed in an organization that has plenty of room to push Perez as fast as he can handle it. Along with the homers, he’s hit eight triples and 16 doubles. If you’re wondering why his grades are a little soft around the chamber, it’s because he’s made big physical gains in his early 20’s. Looks like a grown man now, in other words. Wouldn’t be out of place in a big league clubhouse.
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