Prospect Roundup – Week 10
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New to Pitcher List, we are going to be doing a weekly prospect roundup that is designed to keep you informed on what is happening down in the minor leagues that is relevant for your dynasty leagues. I’ll be talking about who is hot, which top prospects are struggling, underrated guys that are producing to keep an eye on, or anything that may have caught my eye in general. So here is the first of many Prospect Rundowns that will be appearing every Saturday afternoon.
Triston McKenzie (SP, Cleveland Indians) Age: 20, Level: AA
McKenzie made his 2018 season debut this week after starting the year on the DL with forearm tightness, and he quickly showed why he is considered among the better pitching prospects in the game by going 5 shutout innings, allowing just 1 hit and striking out 4. This is especially impressive considering that McKenzie was making his debut at the AA level where he is now one of the youngest pitchers in the circuit. McKenzie is now looking to continue building off a strong 2017 season in which he posted a 3.46 ERA with 186 strikeouts in 143 innings while allowing just 45 walks. He should be considered among the higher valued pitching prospects in most dynasty leagues and I think he reaches the majors sometime next season.
Julio Pablo Martinez (OF, Texas Rangers) Age: 22, Level: ROK
The Dominican Summer League is officially underway, and there are a number of interesting prospects to talk about, but perhaps none more interesting than Martinez who signed this offseason out of Cuba for $2.8 Million. Martinez is off to a hot start, hitting .467/.680/.600 in 15 ABs with 2 SBs. Martinez notably had a 3 walk game on Tuesday and to date, Matinez is walking more than he’s striking out which is encouraging. At 22, Martinez should be dominating this league as it’s mostly filled with raw teenage talents and I would expect Martinez to be promoted fairly soon when the Gulf Coast and Low-A Northwest Leagues get underway shortly. Marinez notably hit .333/.469/.498 with 24 steals in 61 games in Cuba’s top league at 20 years old before defecting, so there is a nice power/speed mix here and he should be on the radar for most dynasty leagues at this point.
Anthony Kay (SP, New York Mets) Age: 23, Level: A
Anthony Kay was a late 1st round pick of the Mets in 2016, and unfortunately, an elbow injury was discovered shortly after signing and ultimately required Tommy John Surgery. The result is Kay is making his professional debut in 2018 and he has been fairly solid to date posting a 4.02 ERA with 53 strikeouts against 20 walks in 53.2 innings pitched. Kay pitched well on Friday, going 6.2 innings, striking out 7 batters and allowing just 1 ER. Kay notably has an above-average 11.8% swinging-strike rate and has the 3 pitch mix to be successful. Reports are that his velocity has improved post-Tommy John Surgery, and he could be a decent option in deeper dynasty leagues.
Rylan Bannon (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers) Age: 22, Level: A+
Bannon has been one of the best hitters in the California League this year, hitting for both power and average while also walking at an above-average rate. He’s also been one of the hotter hitters in the minors recently as he has 5 HRs and is hitting .389 over the last 10 days. He notably had a big day on Wednesday in which he had 4 hits including a home run. Bannon’s season line is now up to .299/.397/.598 with 15 HRs and 2 SBs and is supporting that with a 13.9% walk rate and 23.8% strikeout rate. His 12.1% swinging-strike rate indicates his contact skills aren’t too bad, and while his success this year has been in the CAL League which is a notorious hitters league, his skills show promise and he should be on deeper dynasty league radars at this point.
Jonathan Loaisiga (SP, New York Yankees) Age: 23, Level: AA
Loaisiga might have the most difficult name to spell out in the minors, but I’m willing to tough it out to share about his dominance to date in 2018. Loaisiga has put together a 2.30 ERA season split between A+ and AA with 54 strikeouts against just 4 walks in 43 innings pitched which is crazy impressive. He had another strong start on Tuesday, throwing 5 innings while striking out 8 batters and allowing just 1 hit and 1 ER. Loaisiga has shown higher strikeout upside with a 12.6% swinging strike rate at AA which is above-average and combined it with an impressive walk rate of 1.17 BB/9. He should be a riser on mid-season prospect lists and should be on the radar for dynasty leagues that roster 100+ prospects.
Royce Lewis (SS, Minnesota Twins) Age: 19, Level: A
The #1 overall draft pick last year, Lewis has been a consistent power/speed threat throughout his minor league career. Tuesday was Lewis’ 19th birthday, and he celebrated in style by going 2 for 4 with a grand slam HR plus a walk. Lewis’ season line is now up to .285/.332/.420 with 5 HRs and 15 SBs and he’s supporting that line with a 6.1% walk rate and a 16% strikeout rate. His 10.9% swinging-strike rate is roughly average which is impressive considering how young Lewis is for the level, and gives hope that he will be successful as he moves up the organizational ladder towards the majors. His power/speed upside is really intriguing for fantasy purposes. I view him as a top 10-15 overall fantasy prospect at this point.
Enyel De Los Santos (SP, Philadelphia Phillies) Age: 22, Level: AAA
De Los Santos has been one of the bigger breakout stories of the season to date, and he just keeps throwing gems including a performance on Thursday in which he threw 8 innings while striking out 7 batters against 0 walks, and giving up just 1 ER. This performance lowered his season ERA to 1.63, and he now has 62 strikeouts against 20 walks in 61.1 innings pitched at the highest level of the minors this year. De Los Santos now has a 13.3% swinging strike rate which ranks 4th best between both AAA leagues. His dominance could put him play for a promotion later this season in Philadelphia, and I think he should be on radars in most dynasty leagues at this point.
Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox) Age: 20, Level: A
Robert finally made his North American professional debut this week in the South Atlantic League, and in 4 games this week has posted a .235/316/.353 line with 1 SB. This was a very notable debut after being one of the bigger international free agent signings in recent memory. Robert received a $26 Million bonus which is the second highest only to Yoan Moncada’s $31 Million bonus that he got from the Red Sox. Robert is known as a true 5-tool athlete with plus raw power and speed to match, and his success in Cuba’s top league as an 18-year-old in which he hit .401/526/.687 makes him one of the more intriguing prospects in recent memory and a strong performance throughout the rest of the season could see him rise up prospect rankings incredibly quick. He should be on radars in every dynasty league!
Taylor Hearn (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates) Age: 23, Level: AA
Hearn has long been an intriguing prospect as a left-handed pitcher with premium velocity and gaudy strikeout numbers at every stop in his minor league career. He has finally reached AA this year and has put together a strong season, and that continued this week with a 7 inning gem in which he struck out 9 batters against 2 walks, and allowed just 4 hits and 0 earned runs. Hearn now has a 3.63 ERA with 61 strikeouts against 23 walks in 57 innings pitched. His swinging-strike rate of 13.7% is well above-average and ranks in a tie for the best in the Eastern League. His .195 batting average against ranks 2nd best in the league. He could be a nice pick-up in deeper dynasty leagues and I consider him an intriguing sleeper with a higher upside.
Miguel Hiraldo (3B, Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 17, Level: ROK
The Dominican Summer League may only be a few games into the season, but Hiraldo has been one of the bigger stories from it so far. Hiraldo was an international amateur signing by the Blue Jays last July, and many scouts viewed him as the best overall hitter in that class and he’s been proving it this week by hitting .462/.517/.923 with 2 HRs and 1 SB in 26 ABs. Those 2 HRs came in a 4 for 5 day on Friday. The reports are that he’s too advanced for this level, and he has been a standout performer in extended spring training throughout the spring. The thought is that the Jays could promote him to either the Gulf Coast League or even Low-A Vancouver when those leagues get underway in the next few weeks. I think he’s an interesting deep league target if you’re looking for a lottery ticket type with strong hitting tools and pedigree of success.
Michel Baez (SP, San Diego Padres) Age: 22, Level: A+
Baez was one of the bigger breakout stories of last year after he dominated in the Midwest League, and he’s continued to dominate this year in the notorious hitters league that is the California League. Baez was especially dominant this past Tuesday in which he threw 6 innings of shutout ball, allowing 1 hit and 0 walks while striking out 8 batters. Baez now has a 2.84 ERA with 35 strikeouts against 17 walks in 38 innings pitched. The low walk tally in Tuesday’s game was a big step forward for Baez who uncharacteristically had been giving up more walks than usual after returning from lower back soreness earlier this year. At this point, Baez should be considered a top 50 prospect for fantasy purposes IMO.
A.J. Reed (1B, Houston Astros) Age: 25, Level: AAA
A former hyped fantasy prospect, A.J. Reed continues to ply his trade at the AAA level and wait for either a promotion to the majors or a trade to a more 1B needy organization. Reed led the entire minors in HRs last year with 34, and he continues to hit HRs this year with 12 to date which ranks in a tie for 5th best in the Pacific Coast League. Two of those HRs came this week as he hit one on both Wednesday and Friday. For the season, Reed is notably walking more and striking out less than last year while maintaining similar ISO levels. I really don’t know where he fits in the Astros plans with Yulieski Gurriel, Marwin Gonzalez, and perhaps even J.D. Davis ahead of him on the depth chart, but his skills probably deserve a chance in the majors at some point. He could be a nice sleeper in leagues that emphasize on-base% and slugging, he just needs a chance.