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 Cade Marlowe, SEA, AA
Stats: (6 games) 14-29, 5 HR, 3 doubles, 12 RBI, 11 runs
Marlowe ends his 2022 regular season putting the finishing touches on a second consecutive 20 HR season, this time with 30-plus stolen bases as well. His 2022 solidified his approach at the plate as he maintained a walk rate over 10% and a K rate in the 25% range.
He’s definitely at the older end of the AA player spectrum but 1) that’s partially due to Marlowe being an older college bat when drafted in 2019 (born in June 1997) and 2) he’s Rule 5 eligible, meaning he’ll either get added to the 40 man for the Mariners or picked up by another team. If the Mariners hang on to him (which isn’t a guarantee given their surplus of OFers), I definitely see him getting assigned to AAA Tacoma to start 2023. In the event he goes unprotected, I don’t imagine one of the other 29 teams not taking the chance on adding Marlowe to their active roster. He profiles as a great 4th OF option, possibly getting the chance to carve out a platoon role on a less talented team with his left-handed bat, speed, and ability to play all 3 OF positions. As you prepare for your offseason, circle Marlowe’s name as a possible add to the bottom of your minor league roster.
Honorable Mention: OF Shane Sasaki, Tampa Bay, Low A
Stats: (6 games) 5-18, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 runs, 3 stolen bases, 8 walks
I’ve been interested in writing about Sasaki for the better part of the year as he almost delivered a 50 stolen base season. Sasaki’s speed is legit, and unlike most speedsters, he’s been able to do two things very well: spray the ball in the air and take a walk.
Regarding spraying the ball, he has a 60%+ rate of FB & LD along with a pull rate under 45%. As far as his plate discipline, he has a 12.2% walk rate coupled with a 12% SwStr rate. His path to the minors is interesting as he was drafted out of high school in 2019, playing in 13 games at Rookie ball, before going to Australia after the canceled 2020 MiLB season. Playing for the Perth Heat, Sasaki logged 67 PAs; the offensive numbers weren’t great (.179/.299/.321), but he did hit 2 HRs and swiped 8 bases on 9 attempts. Now that he has a full minor league season under his belt, the Rays could be more willing to move Sasaki quickly. I think he splits ‘23 between High A and AA. He could be a quintessential Rays surprise in another year or so, especially with the rules of the major leagues aligning with what he does best.
Pitcher of the Week: SP Brandon Pfaadt, ARI, AAA
Stats: (2 starts) 13 IP, 6 ER, 3 hits, 1 BB, 19 Ks
As much as D’Backs fans have enjoyed seeing Ryne Nelson excel at the major league level, it was a bit of a surprise that he was the first among their quintet of pitching prospects. While Drey Jameson was the headliner dating back to 2019, Brandon Pfaadt has been the most impressive, highlighted by an outstanding 2021 that saw him raise his profile among dynasty managers.
Pfaadt now leads the league in Ks at 200, and what he’s been able to do with his fastball/slider/changeup mix at AAA Reno in the Pacific Coast League has been nothing short of phenomenal. For context, the average ERA and WHIP in the PCL is 5.41 and 1.51 respectively. Ryne Nelson, before the magnificent start to his MLB career, had posted a 5.43 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Pfaadt? Oh, just a 2.52 and .90 to go along with those 200 Ks. He may not have the talent of the Rodriguezes, Painters, or Perezes of the world but what Pfaadt has done this season is beyond impressive. Paired with Nelson, the Diamondbacks could have the beginning of a dynamic 1-2. It’s almost like if Arizona had one dynamic player, say Alek Thomas, and then brought up another, even more talented player, like Corbin Car–never mind. If you like what Nelson is doing, you’ll love Pfaadt in 2023.
Honorable Mention: SP Rodney Boone, CLE, High A
Stats: (1 starts) 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 0 BB, 12 Ks
Color me surprised, yet another Cleveland pitching prospect. This time we have the lefthander Rodney Boone, pitching at High A Lake County. In his first pro season, split between A levels, Boone has tallied almost 140Ks including striking out 26% of the batters he’s faced at High A thus far.
Cleveland is the Baskin Robbins of pitching prospects, they have flavors for everyone. If you’re looking for a lefty but with more size and fewer Kershaw mechanics than Will Dion, Rodney Boone might be your guy.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)