(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.
Nathaniel Lowe (1B, Tampa Bay Rays ) Age: 23, Level: AAA
I’m not sure why, but it seems like Lowe isn’t getting a lot of attention for the absolutely incredible season that he is having this year. Here is a guy that is currently posting the 4th best full-season minor league wRC+ mark ever of any player in a given year since Fangraphs started keeping track in 2006 with an incredible 193 wRC+ over 454 PAs split between A+/AA/AAA. His success continued this week as he has extended his hit streak to 10 games (2 of those games at AAA level after a recent promotion) including two multi-hit efforts, plus a HR on Thursday which was his 24th of the year. For the season, he is slashing .351/.441/.605 and is supporting it with a 13.2% walk rate and a 14.3% K rate. His swinging-strike rate is way above-average at an impressive 7.7% and overall, I think there’s a ton to like about the profile. He’s a guy that should be on radars in most dynasty leagues at this point.
Deivi Garcia (SP, New York Yankees ) Age: 19, Level: A+
Yes, I have recently written about Deivi Garcia and his breakout 2018 recently, but when a pitcher goes out and is perfect over 7 innings with no hits or walks allowed and strikes out 12 batters, it has to be talked about. Garcia was unbelievable in this outing on Monday, retiring all 21 batters that he faced and achieved that success largely through his high spin rate fastball. Note that this was just the 2nd start at High-A for Garcia who had one previous start at the level as an injury replacement. Garcia was pulled from the game upon reaching extra innings where the opposing team was able to score and therefore Garcia ended up with a no-decision for his incredible efforts. He now has a 3.10 ERA for the season with 82 strikeouts against 13 walks in 52.1 innings pitched, and those strikeout numbers are supported by elite swinging-strike rates of 16.1% and 15.2% at A and A+ ball respectively. He’s a name that should be rising up prospect boards quickly going forward so go scoop him up!
Monte Harrison (OF, Miami Marlins ) Age: 23, Level: AA
Acquired over the offseason as part of the Christian Yelich deal, Monte Harrison quickly became one of the toolsiest prospects in the Marlins system. Those tools while very loud (60 raw power/60 speed), have not fully translated into production this year until recently. Harrison now has 7 of his 16 HRs on the season in his last 45 games, and 2 of those HRs have come this week as he hit a HR on both Wednesday and Thursday, and he also added a SB on Thursday to bring his total to 24 for the season. The question has always been the hit tool for Harrison, and his current .233/.311/.393 batting line with a 37.2% strikeout rate and far below-average 17.3% swinging-strike rate suggest that the hit tool is still very much a work in progress. Regardless, his power/speed talents give him a chance to be an asset for fantasy baseball, and if he can prove capable of making steady contact, he could be a star. His stock is down a bit from the beginning of the year, but I feel it’s fair to still value him as a top 100 overall fantasy prospect based on his upside.
Taylor Widener (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks ) Age: 23, Level: AA
Similar to Harrison above, Widener was also acquired in an offseason deal, in this case, it was as part of the 3 team deal that sent Brandon Drury to the Yankees. Widener has broken out in 2018 and has been particularly dominant in his last two starts. His latest start came on Thursday in which he went 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and striking out 9 batters against 0 walks. This performance pushed Widener’s season ERA down to a cool 2.49 over 119.1 innings pitched, and he’s picked up 151 strikeouts against 36 walks along the way. He ranks among the league leaders in the Southern League in numerous categories: his 31.9 K% ranks 1st, his 24.3 K-BB% ranks first, his .188 batting average against ranks 1st, his 13.2% swinging-strike rate ranks 2nd, and his 3.04 FIP ranks 1st. He clearly is dominating the AA level and is likely not too far away from the majors. Remember his name for next year in re-draft leagues and he should be on radars in medium-sized dynasty leagues at this point.
Kevin Newman (SS, Pittsburgh Pirates) Age: 25, Level: AAA
A 1st overall pick back in 2015, Newman has steadily climbed the organizational ladder in Pittsburgh and seems to be on the cusp of making his MLB debut at some point soon. He strengthened his case with an incredible performance on Tuesday in which he was a perfect 5 for 5 with a HR and 3 RBIs. He added two more multi-hit performances throughout the rest of the week and his batting line now sits at .307/.353/.415 with 4 HRs and 27 SBs. He has supported that line with a 6.2% walk rate along with an impressive 10.5% strikeout rate, and when you add in a 4.8% swinging-strike rate which ranks 3rd best in the International League and you can see how elite his hit tool is. All told he’s been worth a solid 116 wRC+. His skill set may not be terribly fantasy friendly without a lot of power (just a .108 ISO for the season), but his contact skills and a touch of speed help make him a prospect with a useful floor going forward. He could be a September call-up this year too so keep an eye on him in redraft leagues.
Joe Palumbo (SP, Texas Rangers) Age: 23, Level: A+
Palumbo is a former 30th round draft pick from 2013, and rose to relevance in 2016 when he one of the very best performers in the South Atlantic League (Single-A) and then backed it up with a strong start to his 2017 before tearing his UCL which required surgery. He’s back pitching again in 2018 post-surgery and is now 8 starts into his 2018 season (5 of those starts have come at A+) and he has seemingly picked up where he left off with continued strong performances. His latest start was a true gem in which he threw 5 shutout innings, striking out 11 batters against 0 walks, and allowing just 2 hits. He has a 3.32 ERA at A+ with an impressive 25:3 strikeout to walk ratio over 21.2 innings pitched this season. His 12.4% swinging-strike rate is above-average and suggests that his swing and miss stuff remains intact. If he can maintain these control gains that he’s showing right now, could be a guy that moves up prospect rankings going forward.
Greyson Jenista (OF, Atlanta Braves) Age: 21, Level: A+
A recent 2nd round selection out of Wichita State where he played with Alec Bohm who went to the Philadelphia Phillies at #3 overall, Jenista is an interesting prospect in his own right and seems to be on the fast track to the majors after a 2nd promotion in his short professional career. Jenista recently got promoted to Advanced-A ball which is an aggressive assignment for a recent draftee. He earned the promotion after putting up a .333/.377/.453 line with 1 HR and 4 SBs in 130 PAs at the Single-A level. His 13.1% strikeout rate along with a strong 9.6% swinging-strike rate suggests that his contact skills were plenty effective at the level and are ready for a new challenge. His groundball rate of 51% is interesting, and likely is limiting Jenista’s power upside (reports suggest he has 65 raw power), and so him learning how to raise his launch angle will be something to follow going forward.
David Peterson (SP, New York Mets) Age: 22, Level: A+
The Mets 1st round pick in 2017, Peterson has moved fairly slowly in a Mets farm system that isn’t loaded to the brim with talent. In 2018, he has had an issue with contact allowed as he’s given up 112 hits over 105 innings split between A and A+ so far. Those contact issues continued this week in a start on Monday in which he went 6 innings, striking out 6 batters against 1 walk, and allowing 8 hits and 2 ERs. The encouraging part of Peterson’s profile is that the contact that he is giving up is very largely on the ground (66.7% GB rate at single-A, and 60.4% GB rate at A+) and therefore of the safe variety. The result is decent run prevention numbers despite all the contact against as Peterson has managed a 3.86 ERA for the season. The heavy GB nature also helps him keep the ball in the ballpark and the result is that his FIP and xFIP are both far lower than his actual ERA and suggests that he’s been unlucky to date. If he can maintain his heavy GB nature going forward, he could be a relative value since defenders at higher levels are better and more of those GBs are likely to be turned into outs. He’s only in consideration in deeper dynasty leagues at this point though.
Zack Collins (C, Chicago White Sox) Age: 23, Level: AA
Yet another 1st round pick, Collins was the 10th overall pick in 2016 and he has been steadily making his way up the organizational ladder of the White Sox since. Reports on his defense weren’t great out of the draft and there were concerns he wouldn’t be able to stick at the catcher position, and they still exist but the bat was always going to be his carrying tool and it continues to shine among catching prospects. He recently had a big game on Friday in which he went 3 for 6 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs. This incredible performance pushed Collins season line to .246/.398/.430 with 14 HRs and 5 SBs over 459 PAs, and he’s supporting it with an incredible 19.8% walk rate and 29.2% strikeout rate. His 11% swinging-strike rate is close to average and suggests that his 29.2% strikeout rate is more of a result of his extreme patience and that he should have a decent chance of making enough contact at the major league level to be relevant. His 138 wRC+ ranks in a tie for 5th among all catchers with at least 250 PAs this year.
Chris Paddack (SP, San Diego Padres) Age: 22, Level: AA
Paddack has been one of the biggest risers this year on prospect lists, he has simply dominated his competition in 2018. That dominance continued this week with a 5 inning start in which he struck out 4 batters against 0 walks, and allowed just 4 hits and 1 ER. It wasn’t his best start, but this is now 6 consecutive starts at the AA level in which he has given up 2 runs or less and supports the idea that his repertoire is good enough for the upper levels of the minors despite there being some slight concerns on his breaking ball consistency/effectiveness. His swinging-strike rate so far the AA level is 10% which is roughly average and supports the decline in his K rate so far at this level to 27% from 40.9% at A+. Still, his 1.91 ERA for the season to date with 114 strikeouts against just 7 walks over 85 innings is eye-popping and he deserves a lot of credit for that performance, especially in a year in which he’s come back from Tommy John Surgery. He should be considered a top 50 overall prospect IMO and is among the very best pitching prospects in the minors.