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8/15 Edition: Top 10 Minor League Hitters to Stash

Welcome back, here’s last week’s recap: Greg Bird finally took a flight to the Yankees clubhouse, fulfilling my prediction that he’d see the majors before Judge with his hot streak....

Welcome back, here’s last week’s recap: Greg Bird finally took a flight to the Yankees clubhouse, fulfilling my prediction that he’d see the majors before Judge with his hot streak. And I’m sure he’ll be relieved to be spared of my bird-related puns until ESPN starts writing about him. Jose Peraza also got an espresso shot but it was apparently too strong for him. Here’s the best of the rest.

While he’s still on the minor league DL with a hamstring injury, he just started a rehab assignment with the GCL Braves. That may make him the only prospect in rookie ball to make this list, technically speaking. But the Braves say they expect him to be in the majors as their starting third baseman as soon as next week. There’s obviously risk of re-injury as hamstrings are tricky, but he has an excellent bat and the only prospect on this list with guaranteed playing time the rest of the way.

Williams has continued to post authentic-Philly-cheesesteak-delicious numbers since the trade, now hitting .415 with 3 Home Runs and a stolen base over that span. The Phillies have no reason to call him up pre-September, but he has a fair chance at logging full-time at-bats when that happens, and should provide fair power and speed with a perfectly palatable batting average.

– Kepler has an all-around excellent season and has been hovering around the Top-10 for a while, but has had out-of-this-world numbers recently, hitting .340 with 4 Home Runs (more than half his season total), 3-for-3 SB, and a 8/10 K/BB over the past week. The Twins’ somewhat predictable, yet astounding fall from grace means that the talented German should get an opportunity this year. On the season, he’s hit .331 with 7 Homers and 16 Stolen bases, but with a walk rate of 12.2% and a K rate of 13.5%. That combination of skills makes him a low bust rate prospect with high upside to boot.

– As September draws closer, it’s seeming more an more likely that Reed will have to wait until September for his chance… but hopefully will earn it then. It’s clear that the Astros are playing so well they don’t need to do anything drastic, which is why they sent McCullers and Velasquez down to preserve their innings. He continues to succeed in Double-A, although not quite as dominant as before the promotion. His relatively-high K rate means he may flounder in the majors this year, but he has the power stick to make up for a low AVG.

– Welcome back, Orlando! You haven’t changed a bit! Since you last graced this list, you haven’t hit a single homer (5 on the year), though I guess you’ve been running around a lot, what with you stealing 21 bases on the season and 7 in your last 2 weeks. Sure, your K rate has gone up from the single digits to 13%, but what matters is that you’re probably going to get promoted in September and get a lot of playing time! I at least imagine this would be our conversation if we talked in real life. Maybe there’s a reason he hasn’t talked to me.

– Although Story did have a 4-hit game this week, it’s been the same old Story in Triple-A. Our protagonist is a talented hitter who overcame unenthusiastic scouting reports, but is still haunted by his strikeout bugaboo who has become increasingly disruptive. Then his closest ally, his walk rate, suddenly leaves him upon his promotion, making his future more uncertain. Will he overcome these hardships come September? To be continued…

Over the past week, Pinder added another homer, his 14th, to best his 2014 season total of 13. The A’s are unlikely to call him up before September, but I see no reason to give him a shot in the majors. While he may earn plenty of At-Bats, be forewarned that although Pinder may seem appealing, he may be as deceptive as high-angle photos in that behind his .319 AVG is an unattractive 20.3% K rate. Sure, it’s not quite ugly for a hitter with his power, but as a 23-year-old with that rate in Double-A, it makes him a higher bust risk, especially playing half his games in a pitcher’s haven.

Judge may have been overruled when Greg Birdman, Attorney-At-Law, got his major league hearing, but now Judge is making a case of his own (and no, I don’t care how little sense that makes). His numbers have been quickly returning to Double-A form, with an increase in his walk rate (and K rate) but also a healthy power binge, with 3 dingers over the past week. He may have some trouble breaking into the Yankees still-surprisingly-healthy lineup, but I could see him getting enough playing time to hit a couple of homers, making him a worthy addition for power-starved teams.

Jankowski continues to post better numbers in Triple-A than he had in Double-A, with a single digit K rate, a .405 AVG, and seven stolen bases. His speed is his best attribute but has a fair chance at a healthy AVG as well. In leagues that penalize strikeouts, he’ll be an especially valuable commodity.

– Seager will see the majors in September, but he may seeing a lot of it from the dugout as there’s simply not a whole lot of room for him to play. I think he will steal some time at shortstop, and could earn more if he hits well. The upside is still excellent but the opportunity just isn’t there.

Winker’s numbers suddenly look better in the blink of an eye, as he’s hit a homer in each of his last 3 games, and is 12-for-27 in his last 7 games. Winker lacks a “wow” factor in that he is fairly decent at everything, but I suppose he is excellent at not having a weakness. Although his surface numbers of .273 with 11 Homers and 8 Stolen bases are pretty yawn-inducing, it comes with a high walk rate of 12.7% and a good K rate of 16.7%, which is darn good discipline for a 21-year-old in Double-A. He has a fair chance at playing time for the Reds come September and can be an all-around solid guy to have, especially in deep NL-only leagues and OBP leagues.

is riding a 5-game hit streak in which he’s stolen 3 bases. With the way he’s been playing, come September he may find his way into a surprising number of At-bats if he can keep this up. has been slowed substantially by Triple-A pitching. Well not slowed on the basepaths, he’s stolen 15 bases at each level. But he’s only hitting .260 in 236 PA in Triple-A compared to .358 in Double-A, so he may be mostly used as a pinch runner. had a hot start but it didn’t last long, as he’s now hitting .208 with 4 HR in 51 PA. He still did hit his 30th home run, though. has alternated hot and cold weeks, but he’s still hitting .264 with 15 Home Runs in 364 PA and could see some playing time to rest the injury-prone Lawrie. He’s cut down his K rate to a solid 16.2% so he may be useful even if he can’t muscle many longballs out of O.CO. plays for Double-A New Britain and is not of consequence to fantasy baseball, but he did buy me 3 Jack and Cokes last weekend at a bar in Connecticut with his friend and once more highly-regarded prospect I still don’t know why, but that was pretty cool.

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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