Welcome to the prospect spotlight, a cousin of Prospect News, wherein I will set eyes on a handful of guys I’m claiming in my dynasty leagues.
Ethan Elliott — 15 IP, 1 ER, 1 HR, 7 baserunners, 28 Ks
I’m watching Elliott’s season opening start from May 4 because Cleveland’s High A squad in Lake County doesn’t offer video feeds, so we can’t clap eyes on Elliott’s 13 strikeout performance from Saturday night. No matter. I’ve already added him in a 30-team league and will try to get him in a 20 and 15 in the upcoming faab runs.
He’s not throwing all that hard, sitting 89-90, but his arm slot creates issues for opponents, kind of a Bumgarner-esque delivery with a shorter arm swing. It’s a unique look and helps his changeup dominate–not that he’s needed it much. The fastball has good ride and stays up in the zone, where Elliott clearly likes to live. So far so good. He’s a skinny dude, so he might find a tick or two of velocity along the way. I don’t think he’ll really need it if his command holds throughout the upper levels. Like any young arm who attacks the zone, Elliott will get punished at some point by upper level bats, but I think we’ll see a lot of dominant lines, and I suspect his velocity is already up a touch from the season opener. Can’t wait to see for certain.
My favorite moment from his season-opening outing happened the second inning, when his infield botched an easy double play ball, failing to record any outs in their hurry to get two. Bryant Packard was up next for the young Tigers, and he’s a tough out even left-on-left. Packard ran a 3-2 count with a tough AB then grounded out to short. The young Padres failed to convert that double play ball as well. Two outs. Should be five. Runners on first and third. Right-handed bat in the box, DH Eliezer Alfonzo. He’s a tough out, several foul balls. 2-2, high fastball, popped him up. Impressive to see Elliott just zero in and make pitch after a well-placed pitch.
Flash forward to last week: back-to-back road starts against any opponent makes for a difficult slate. Cleveland is especially talented in the lower minors. Elliott did not seem to care. After going five innings allowing one run in Lake County on May 11, Elliott came back to town with six shutout innings and 13 Ks on May 16. This seems particularly relevant to me because deception is Elliott’s best feature, and if batters are losing ground/confidence/effectiveness the more they see him, I’m intrigued. Very excited to see his next outing. Ideally, I’ll catch the live broadcast. Watching on replay, it’s tough to skip the innings because he works so quickly and throws so many strikes. Fun stuff. Should make him popular with teammates.
Some other quick pick ups before we go:
Boston AAA OF Marcus Wilson — .278/.381/.639, 42 PA, 3 HR, 2 SB, 0 CS, 6 BB, 17 K
Nobody’s slamming the brakes to stop and scoop up a hitter with a 40.5 % strikeout rate, and that’s understandable. There’s a reason he cost me a $0 bid in my 30-team league last week.
On the other hand, he’s 24 in AAA and has been hitting well for about two years. Since April 14 of 2019, Wilson has played 121 games and logged 461 plate appearances. His line? .277/.362/.521, 21 HR, 13 SB, 3 CS, 53 BB (11.5 %), 150 K (32.5 %). That’ll play, even with the strikeouts, if he could keep making enough hard contact to cover the whiffs at the highest level. It’s not common for a player to polish his K-rate down after he makes the majors, but it’s not all that rate either. For Wilson, a solid defender in centerfield, contact rate is the final missing ingredient, but contact rates are dropping around the league, and I suspect windows for guys like Marcus Wilson are getting a little wider as teams seek impact in the instances their players do connect.
Houston AAA OF Jose Siri — .429/.455/.833, 44 PA, 4 HR, 3 SB, 2 BB, 12 K (27.3 %)
Myles Straw is slashing .214/.295/.260 with 5 SB and 3 CS. That’s awful. 34 percent worse than league average. Houston obviously loves Straw, but love can deceive, and eventually someone’s gonna wake up and smell the wet hay.
Siri seems unlikely to hit any better, but he has elite athleticism and good bat speed. Sounds a little like Adolis Garcia and any number of other forgotten nowhere men to pop from the upper minors and into our fantasy hearts. I’ve always liked Siri, so I’m definitely biased, but I think most unbiased observers would swap Straw out for Siri for a few weeks and see what happens.
St. Louis AA OF Alec Burleson — .286/.367/.595, 49 PA, 4 HR, 1 SB, 6 BB, 15 K (30.6 %)
Bit of a cheat here as my large adult son is just a deep league flier at the moment, whereas the other names in this group have true medium-deep mixed league potential. Seeing Burleson get promoted to AA on Tuesday–the second 2020 draftee to reach AA on the hitting side–made me think he deserves a deeper look. Apart from his true freshman year at East Carolina, the guy has always hit, slashing .341/.387/.496 across three seasons there despite the anchor of that freshman line: .252/.325/.282.
St. Louis must see something special in Burleson to push him so soon. He homered in back-to-back games this weekend, but those were his only hits in those games. Anecdotally, I think some of this comes down to High-A being pretty close to AA in talent this year, and the Cardinals moving pieces around their system, but I don’t mean to take anything away from Burleson. It’s quite the accomplishment to debut in AA just 11 games into a professional career. And for his part, he’s a tough at bat despite the big K rates. Might be more of a flag and follow than an instant add, but he’ll be sliding up my own boards pretty quickly if he hits his new kitchen cooking.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.