(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
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.
Stephen Gonsalves (SP, Minnesota Twins) Age: 24, Level: AAA
The former 4th round pick in 2013 has had a slow and steady rise up the Twins organizational ladder, and he’s currently in the middle of a strong run at AAA that may be strengthening his case for a promotion to the majors. His latest start on Tuesday was a 7 inning gem in which he struck out 4 against 0 walks, and allowed just 5 hits and 0 earned runs. His season ERA now sits at 2.77 over 97.1 innings split between AA and AAA, and he has managed 97 strikeouts against 56 walks along the way. His 10.8% swinging-strike rate at AAA is solid and would rank 9th best in the International League if he had enough innings to qualify. The walks are of big concern which is why it was nice to see him go 7 innings without allowing one. He’s had success his whole minor league career without sterling control though and he’s knocking on the door of the majors, he should be on radars in most leagues.
Nick Madrigal (2B/SS, Chicago White Sox) Age: 21, Level: A
The 4th overall pick in the recent 2018 MLB draft after an impressive career at Oregon State, Madrigal has started his professional career by doing the same thing that he did in college which is hit the baseball and hit it often. He is now 14 games and 53 PAs into his professional career, and he is yet to strikeout. He didn’t do anything notable this week but he did rack up 5 hits over 5 games while neither striking out or walking. His slash line at Single-A Kannapolis is now .452/.444/.548 with 0 HRs and 2 SBs and he’s supported it with a 2.8% walk rate and as mentioned before, 0% strikeout rate. That has been worth a 172 wRC+ to date which is impressive. He’s showing elite elite contact skills, but he’s going to need to do more to become fantasy relevant which I believe he will in a larger sample. He should be considered among the safest and likely quickest to the majors among the 2018 draft class and he should be on radars in all dynasty leagues.
Gregory Soto (SP, Detroit Tigers) Age: 23, Level: A+
A left-handed starter from the Dominican Republic who originally signed back in 2012, Soto’s development has been more of a marathon rather than a sprint. He put together one of his best starts of the season this past Tuesday, going 6.2 innings with 6 strikeouts against 3 walks while allowing 3 hits and 0 earned runs. This performance pushed Soto’s ERA down to 4.30 over 83.2 innings pitched, and he has picked up 91 strikeouts against 60 walks along the way. The strikeouts are great, and he’s supported it with an above-average 11.1% swinging-strike rate but the 6.45 BB/9 is a killer and is holding him back from greater success currently. If he doesn’t improve his control, he may be better suited to a bullpen role where his mid-90’s fastball and plus curveball would play effectively. He is on the 40-man roster for the Tigers and may get a chance later this year.
Alexander Canario (OF, San Francisco Giants) Age: 18, Level: ROK
Canario has been one of the more intriguing teenage hitters of the last year after a strong Dominican League season last year that showcased both power and speed, and included an MVP award at the league All-star game. He started slowly in 2018 in the Arizona League but has caught fire over the last month and notably had a big game on Wednesday in which he went 3 for 4 with a 2 HRs plus a SB for a fantasy combo meal. His season batting line now sits at .276/.403/.418 with 3 HRs and 8 SBs in 120 PAs, and he’s supporting that line with an impressive 15.8% walk rate along with a 23.3% strikeout rate. His 22.1% swinging-strike rate looks well below-average by MLB averages, but it actually ranks 22nd best in the league and overall he’s been worth a strong 134 wRC+ which ranks 19th best. His production and scouting reports dictate that he should be considered among the more desirable lower-level OF prospects and he should be scooped up in deeper dynasty leagues as a lottery ticket type with high upside.
Matthew Liberatore (SP, Tampa Bay Rays) Age: 18, Level: ROK
Considered one of the top HS pitching prospects in the 2018 MLB draft class, Liberatore who is a lefty who fell to the Rays at pick #16 and he has started his professional career by proving himself plenty capable at the rookie-ball level. He most recently had a start on Thursday in which he went 4 innings, striking out 4 batters against 0 walks, and allowing just 2 hits and 0 ERs. This was the longest and best start of Liberatore’s career to date, and he now has a 2.70 ERA with 10 strikeouts against 5 walks over 10 innings pitched. His 22.5% swinging-strike rate looks promising but his 3.97 FIP and 4.37 xFIP suggest that he’s been fortunate to pitch to a 2.70 ERA so far. He should be on radars in deeper dynasty leagues and should be one of the safer options among HS pitching in dynasty leagues selecting from the 2018 MLB draft pool.
Rowdy Tellez (1B, Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 23, Level: AAA
Tellez is a former 30th round draft pick from 2013, and he previously gained a fair bit of hype for a “AA” season in 2016 in which he hit .297/.387/.530 with 23 HRs that was worth an impressive 152 wRC+ which was among the league leaders. He struggled in AAA last year while dealing with the news of his mother fighting cancer, and the start of the 2018 season wasn’t too much better. He may be finding his game over the last month though as he has hit .353/.364/.686 with 4 HRs in 51 at-bats. He notably had a big day last Saturday, hitting 2 HRs in a 2 for 4 day. His season batting line now sits at .267/.337/.438 with 10 HRs and 6 SBs, and he’s supporting it with very solid 9.2% walk and 15.6% strikeout rates along with an above-average 8.7% swinging-strike rate. As a player on the 40-man roster that is coming on 2 years at the AAA level, look for him to get an opportunity at the major league level later in the year.
Luis Patino (SP, San Diego Padres) Age: 18, Level: A
Patino is looking like another one of many promising prospects from the 2016-2017 international amateur free agency spree that the Padres had that year. Patino has really broken out in 2018 and he continued to make a name for himself with a dominant performance on Wednesday in which he went 5 innings, striking out 7 batters against just 1 walk and allowing 0 hits and 0 earned runs. He has now given up just 1 earned run in his last 24.2 innings pitched, and his season ERA now sits at 2.08 in 56.1 innings. Along the way, he’s racked up 67 strikeouts against 16 walks. His 16.7% swinging-strike rate is elite and ranks 3rd best in the Midwest League, and his 2.23 FIP ranks first which both show how dominant he has been. Did I mention that he’s just 18 years old and the youngest pitcher in the league? He should be a big riser going forward with his swing and miss ability, and that makes him worthy of attention in medium-sized dynasty leagues and above.
Jorge Mateo (SS/OF, Oakland Athletics) Age: 23, Level: AAA
Mateo is a former Yankees prospect that was acquired as part of the Sonny Gray deal last year, Mateo has had a disappointing 2018 season to date, managing just a .233/.283/.361 line over 384 PAs. He notably had a big game on Tuesday though in which he went 4 for 5 with 2 triples and 3 runs scored. Those triples are a great example of how dynamic that Mateo can be with his 80-grade speed, and when you add in that he’s had seasons of 52, 82, and 49 SBs in the past, you can really see how he could be an asset for fantasy teams. He also has a bit more pop than your typical speedster as he hit 12 HRs last year and is sitting at 3 this year. He’s currently struggling with contact though with a 28.6% strikeout rate and supporting that with a below-average 13.5% swinging-strike rate. If he can clean up his contact issues, he could be a fantasy star, and so he’s worth holding in most dynasty leagues for the upside.
Shane Baz (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates) Age: 19, Level: ROK
A first rounder in the 2017 MLB draft (12th overall), Baz has had his innings monitored by the Pirates this year and started his season just over a month ago. In 7 starts so far, Baz has been pretty up and down, and the result is a 4.68 ERA over 32.2 innings pitched. He most recently had one of his better starts of the season on Monday, going 5 innings while striking out 9 batters against 3 walks, while allowing 3 hits and 1 ER. This pushed Baz’s season totals to 38 strikeouts against 18 walks over 32.2 innings pitched, which really highlights the good and bad with Baz…he can rack up the Ks but also the BBs. His 4.29 FIP and 4.23 xFIP do suggest that he’s been unlucky somewhat, but the walks and hits need to come down going forward for him to become potentially fantasy relevant. Good news is, he’s still just 19 and has lots of development time left.
William Contreras (C, Atlanta Braves) Age: 20, Level: A
William Contreras is the younger brother of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, but William has been making a name for himself on his own merit with strong performances to date. He has been one of the hotter hitters in the entire minors over the last week, securing at least 1 hit in every game including a 4 for 5 day on Thursday that included 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 5 RBIs. He then followed that performance up with a 2 for 4 day on Friday with a HR plus a walk. He is now hitting .299/.364/.470 with 11 HRs and 1 SB and is supporting it with a 21.5% strikeout rate along with an 8.5% walk rate which has been worth an impressive 138 wRC+. He ranks among the league leaders in a host of offensive categories including batting average in which he ranks in a tie for 3rd, wOBA in which he ranks 5th, and wRC+ in which he ranks 5th as well. All are particularly notable considering that he is a catcher which is the most physically demanding and a position that lacks depth and quality for us fantasy players. Put him on your radars in your medium-sized dynasty leagues and above!