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: OF Evan Carter, TEX, High A
Stats: (6 games) 9-22, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 3 triples, 8 RBI, 8 runs, 3 SBs
It’s a lazy comparison but I can’t help but wonder if Carter is who we thought Josh Lowe could be if he only Lowe had struck out less at every level. I know it’s not apples to apples as at least Lowe has made it to the major leagues and Carter is still riding the bus through the Carolina League. Be that as it may, Carter has looked like an incredible insightful selection for the Rangers who drafted him out of high school in the 2nd round of the shortened 2020 draft. After a hot start to his first pro season in 2021, Carter was sidelined with a back injury that made some evaluators worried about its impact on his game. Thankfully, Carter has bounced back in 2022 in full health.
Hickory has Rome’s pitcher on the ropes early here in the 3rd inning but Carter doesn’t take it any easier on him. He has a simple swing and, as illustrated above, the ability to barrel up balls into extra-base hits if not out of the ballpark completely. Carter’s game borders on five-category contributor as he’s shown an ability to hit for average and power along with having incredible plate discipline for a teenager playing in High A for his second pro season (13.6% walk rate vs. 16% K rate). You would like to see fewer caught stealing attempts (8) but his above-average footspeed and aggressive nature on the basepaths could also portend a consistent double-digit base-stealing threat along with gaining 10-15 extra runs scored as a major leaguer. We’re all eager to see Carter’s next step.
Honorable Mention(s): SS Anthony Volpe, NYY, AA
Stats: (6 games) 10-26, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 10 runs, 1 SB
Volpe had a miserable first two months of 2022 in his first foray into Double-A. However, two things remained consistent: his base-stealing was never negatively impacted (18 for 20 in stolen bases) and he still walked at an above-average rate (12.6%). Those two things may have been enough to keep his confidence high until the hits started to fall for him; as of now in June, Volpe is posting a .297/.360/.549 line with 5 HRs and 9 SBs. The near 30/30 season of 2021 looks more like a product of luck combined with attacking lesser competition but I think the Yankees and dynasty managers will take a SS who can persist and produce 20/20 seasons like clockwork.
Honorable Mention(s): OF Grant McCray, SFG, Low A
Stats: (6 games) 14-31, 4 HR, 4 doubles, 10 RBI, 8 runs, 4 SBs
Typically in this column, we shine the spotlight on hitters at the High A or above level; players who are extremely fantasy-relevant being anywhere from a few months to a couple of years away from a potential MLB debut. But with this most recent week, I had to include Giants prospect McCray regardless of being in Low A, because he stuffed the stat sheet in a way that’s rare even for a Player of the Week candidate.
Mechanically, McCray’s swing is pretty sound: he stands upright but is beginning to consistently sink his hips and create more of a hip hinge to help drive the ball. The hands remain simple and calm, the bat head gets through the zone well though I obviously would love to see batted ball data about exit velocity.
The major obstacle will be his approach; as he currently has a 29.6% K rate against a pretty decent 11% walk rate. He can get overly aggressive in going after pitches (the above triple was on the first pitch of the AB) so showing a bit more consistent patience will probably help.
Ultimately, the profile has some holes but there’s enough utility here between his speed and increase in extra-base hit power that I trust the Giants, of all teams, to develop McCray into a useful everyday big leaguer for the future.
Pitcher of the Week: SP Mason Montgomery, Tampa Bay, High A
Stats: (1 start) 5 IP, 0 ER, 1 hits, 2 BB, 12 Ks
Well, it was only a matter of time before we had our first repeat Pitcher of the Week but I wouldn’t have guessed it would be Mason Montgomery. At the time of his first PoTW write-up, I thought he was an intriguing pitcher with a funky delivery who could become a bullpen ace for a future Tampa Bay ball club. Since then, he’s appeared in multiple honorable mentions, every time racking up double-digit strikeouts even without working long into games.
Montgomery makes it look as easy as 1-2-3. But wait, we’ve seen him put away left-handers before. That doesn’t impress like it did in May. Show us something else.
Oh. A right-handed batter. Not just a right-handed batter, but #17 overall selection from the 2020 draft, top 100 prospect Nick Yorke.
Does the pedigree matter to Montgomery? What do you think? He changes speeds and eye level so well here, showing the fastball up first, moving to the slider down, then the change-up to disrupt the timing, and then Yorke has no idea what to expect so Montgomery comes back with the fastball letters high.
I still haven’t seen consistent readouts of the velocity (what I’ve seen in other broadcasts said low 90s) but if Montgomery can continue to reduce his walks (10% rate currently) and begin to get stretched out by the Rays, they may have stumbled into something beyond a bullpen ace.
The stuff isn’t phenomenal but the pitchability is, and that command/control and IQ plus the Rays pitching development machine could give us a thing of beauty. Expect Montgomery to be in Montgomery (Alabama, home of the Rays AA affiliate) before the summer ends.
Honorable Mention: SP Brayan Bello, BOS, AA
Stats: (1 start) 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 hits, 1 BB, 7 Ks
At this point, Bello is simply waiting for his shot at the Major Leagues.
It’s been exciting (unless you’re a non-Boston AL East fan perhaps) to see Bello develop from an unknown into a fully baked big-league-ready pitcher within 18 months. This isn’t to say he won’t have some bumps and bruises but he’s shown the stamina, stuff, pitch effectiveness, and command that you want from a young starter. Now it’s just a matter of when the Red Sox are ready to unleash him on the rest of the league. If any redraft managers are reading this, he may not be a bad stash for the second half of the season…
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)