Under-the-radar players are vital to your dynasty teams. Players such as Bryan Reynolds, John Means, and Hunter Dozier are among the many players who started the season unheralded and have made a big fantasy impact. This is a weekly article about some players who are putting up interesting numbers in the minors and whether they should be stashed in your dynasty leagues. As a rule, the player must be less than 5% owned in Fantrax leagues.
Ivan Herrera, C, St. Louis Cardinals, Age: 19
Current Level: High-A
Ivan Herrera’s breakout 2019 has him moving up catcher prospect rankings. Before this season, the 19-year-old had two career home runs in 79 career games, with 77 of those coming in Rookie ball. This season, Herrera started in Single-A for the first time in his three-year minor league career and showed legitimate power potential. In 291 plate appearances, Herrera had a .286/.381/.423 slash line with eight home runs. He also improved his walk rate to a very good 12%.
He’s a very polished prospect and has a chance to start next season in Double-A as just a 20-year-old. He was recently called up to High-A for the first time, and I’d keep an eye on whether he can continue showing really good plate discipline and whether he can keep up the power improvements, there’s a chance he can show himself to be one of the top catching prospects in baseball.
Current Level: Double-A
After spending 2013-2017 in Rookie ball and Low-A for the Rockies, Luis Castro finally broke out in 2018. His full-season numbers were pretty impressive, with an OPS above 1.011 after never hitting for an OPS in the above .800, but it was also only a 57-game season. 2019 is his first season in his seven-year minor league career that he’s played more than 70 games, and the results have been fantastic.
Before being called up to Double-A, Castro showed more power than he ever had with 20 home runs (22 home runs in seven minor league seasons prior to 2019) and a .252 ISO in 416 plate appearances. Most impressively, his plate discipline was fantastic. His 13.4% walk rate represented a career high, and while the 21.2% strikeout rate isn’t amazing, it plays perfectly fine with the power improvements if he’s walking at that kind of rate. There’s also a bit of speed in his profile as his 14 steals on the season show, but that’s more a product of poor catching than it is Castro being a legitimate speed threat.
Since being called up to Double-A, the numbers haven’t been great. His .220/.389/.339 slash line in 76 plate appearances isn’t good, but he’s continued to walk a ton with a 12:16 BB/K ratio. If for the rest of the season Castro can improve on his power numbers in the higher levels, he becomes an interesting candidate to make Colorado’s 40-man roster, as he is Rule 5-eligible at the end of this season.
Current Level: High-A
As a 19-year-old in High-A, Gabriel Arias has shown a lot of tools and surprisingly good production in an advanced level. The first thing that pops out when you watch Arias is his size, as he has a pretty maxed out frame for a 19-year-old, currently listed at 6’1″ and 201 lbs. He also hits the ball extremely hard, and he’s started to become a more extreme pull hitter as his 47.1% pull rate is far higher than where he’s been at other levels in his career. The plate discipline is pretty bad, as his 24:115 BB/K ratio in 457 plate appearances shows, but that’s a bit expected when you have somebody so young in High-A.
There’s a lot to like about Arias’ profile: There’s legitimately huge raw power upside along with 20-steal upside, although that may lower if he gets bigger, but he needs to work on the plate discipline and continue working on his batted-ball approach as at this point he hits a ton of ground balls.
He’s somebody I’m adding anywhere I can. He’s going to be a big riser in prospect rankings entering 2020 and is somebody I’m interested in anywhere I can stash him.
Current Level: Triple-A
The Giants’ return in the Sam Dyson trade, Jaylin Davis is an older prospect at 25, but his production this season is very noteworthy. After showing himself to be a fringe prospect until this year, Davis has blown up with 33 home runs and a .301 ISO on the season. Davis has been one of the most prominent three-true-outcomes hitters in all of minors this season, with 216 of his 486 plate appearances resulting in either a home run, walk, or strikeout.
His plate discipline is sort of what you’d expect from an older breakout: He walks a good amount but strikes out a ton. However, the raw power is the most interesting part of this profile, which is a bit of a bad omen for a player in Oracle park, but there’s a chance Davis makes it work.
His numbers since being traded to San Francisco are insane. In 62 plate appearances, Davis is slashing .404/.500/.962 with eight home runs and five doubles. He’s going to be called up soon, and there’s a chance he’s just a monster and an adjustment has turned him into an Aristides Aquino-esque breakout as there’s a lot of similarities in the two profiles. More realistically, he’ll probably strike out too much to be a true contributor in this hitting environment, but the upside is easy to see.
Current Level: Triple-A
Nick Nelson is a prospect who really makes your jaw drop when you watch him pitch. Nelson throws a mid- to high-90s fastball that has dominated minor league pitching, and he combines that with a pretty good curveball. His other pitches are a splitter that isn’t major league material and a cutter that has really good velocity but not a ton of movement when I’ve watched him. He probably needs another pitch to be a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter, but I think of him more as a potential top-end relief arm. The two-pitch combination could play up and could help mask the control struggles he’s had throughout the minors.
This season, Nelson has a 94:38 K/BB ratio in 73.2 innings, and whether as a starter or reliever, Nelson’s upside with his two very good pitches has me intrigued with him as a long-term option.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)