With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four levels (not to mention the Dominican Summer League and the renamed Complex leagues in Arizona and Florida), keeping up with minor league performances can be difficult. If you wait until end-of-season wrap-ups, a breakout prospect may no longer be available. You can scout stat lines all year, but that can be tedious, and it’s difficult to keep an eye on every tweet of a new highlight. But fear not, intrepid dynasty league manager: Welcome to Pitcher List’s MiLB Player and Pitcher of the Week!
This is a weekly column where I’ll select one hitter and one pitcher who performed outstandingly in the prior week. Not only will you get a name, but also we’ll dive into what powered their results and where their future value stands.
Player of the Week: 3B Josh Jung, TEX, AAA
Stats: (5 games) 9-22, 3 HR, 3 doubles, 11 RBI, 4 runs
Any window to buy low on Jung has officially closed, as the former #8 overall pick in 2019 has come back from his shoulder injury with a vengeance, demolishing Double-A in late July before setting his sights on the Pacific Coast League. For many, Jung seemed slated to start 2022 penciled in as the everyday 3B for the Rangers before his injury put the season on halt. Fortunately, he seems to be picking up where he left off in 2021 and Texas still has no long-term answers at the hot corner.
The combination of hit and power for Jung means he should not only be a dynasty darling but also a name for redraft players to remember as they prepare for 2023. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers give Jung a week or so in the Fall League just to maximize his number of ABs for the season, so there’s a chance we could see a little bit more of him before the book closes on the year.
Honorable Mention: 2B/SS Jose Rodriguez, CWS, AA
Stats: (6 games) 10-23, 4 HR, 1 double, 10 RBI, 8 runs, 1 SB
What a second half to the minor league season Rodriguez has had. After a 2021 that saw him move between three levels (Low-A Kannapolis to Double-A Birmingham), including hitting a combined .301 with 14 HRs and 30 SBs as a 20-year-old, Rodriguez saw his stock move up both org and larger dynasty rankings. Enter 2022, where the expectations were high for Rodriguez to continue with his unique brand of hit tool with speed and double-digit power. Unfortunately, his year started off awful, hitting .216/.266/.351 with only one homer and stolen base in the month of April. But each month he’s gotten better, and from July to present he’s been red hot: .313/.398/.595 with 10 HRs, 10 doubles, and 19 SBs. Even better, during the same span, Rodriguez has posted a 12% BB rate matched by a 13% K rate.
Rodriguez has made the adjustment at the proper level and now he’s in line to make an impact soon in the White Sox lineup.
Pitcher of the Week: SP Emmet Sheehan, LAD, High-A
Stats: (2 starts) 11 IP, 1ER, 0 BB, 6 hits, 17 Ks
I got scooped on this one (that’s what I get for being a day late with this column) as FanGraphs ran an interview with Sheehan on Tuesday. But the sudden attention is warranted as Sheehan has taken his place on the conveyor belt that seems to be running in Chavez Ravine.
Unlike most of those Dodger-bots that L.A. continues to crank out, there is a heavy question around Sheehan’s command and his stamina (he threw 76 innings as a junior at Boston College, 59.2 innings so far this season). He has the stuff to be a power reliever but so far he’s looked great as a starter. The fastball and change-up are plus, if he can land his curveball enough down in the zone enough as a strike, he could make it every five days. Sheehan winds down 2022 as a highly appealing arm, likely to start 2023 at Double-A where his abilities as a starter will be tested.
Honorable Mention: SP Darius Vines, ATL, AAA
Stats: (1 start) 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks
While the defending champions have had more success this season with their hitting prospects flourishing in the major league spotlight, they still have a glut of arms from Rome to Gwinnett that they’re hoping will develop into viable MLB starters. Vines actually sticks out as more of a pop-up than pedigree guy in the bunch, having been drafted in the seventh round back in 2019. He’s done an excellent job post-pandemic season of working his way onto the Braves’ front office radar and therefore onto deep dynasty league rosters.
His results are good, and most importantly, he’s been consistent. In 2021, at High-A, Vines posted a 20.7% K-BB rate in 75 IP with a 1.05 WHIP. This year, while with Double-A Mississippi, his K-BB was 21.8% in 107IP while the WHIP ticked up a bit to 1.21. Nothing in the repertoire is electric, that fact plus the lack of elite command/control leads most evaluators to see low leverage relief in Vines’ future (he pitches to a lot of medium/hard contact). However, I still have tabs on Vines as an unremarkable but possibly useful MIRP type, someone who can eat 2-3 innings, limit runs, and grab a few strikeouts. Is it a profile that makes you want to add him in every league? No, but it is a profile that has the floor of a functional reliever with the potential upside of a back-end starter. I’ll keep my eye on him.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)