(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. Minor League regular seasons are now over and we’re into playoff action!
Corbin Martin (SP, Houston Astros) Age: 22, Level: AA
Martin was a 2nd round pick in 2017 and he’s put together a strong first full season that has raised his prospect stock a lot over the last 12 months. He only enhanced his stock this week with an impressive playoff start in which he went 5.2 shutout innings while striking out 9 batters against just 1 walk, and allowing just 1 hit. For the season, Martin will finish with a 2.51 ERA over 122 innings pitched with 122 strikeouts against 35 walks along the way split between A+ and AA. His .199 batting average against was a top 20 mark in all of the minor leagues, and he’s likely able to achieve that strong mark due to his combination of above-average swinging-strike rate of 13.3% and above-average 48.7% groundball rate. His 3.07 FIP and 3.37 FIP suggest he was fairly fortunate this year, but the underlying metrics point towards a guy that can get hitters out in multiple ways effectively. He may get a few more starts in the AA playoffs as the Corpus Christi Hooks continue on in the playoffs.
Brandon Marsh (OF, Los Angeles Angels) Age: 20, Level: A+
Marsh is one of many intriguing power/speed OFers in the Angels farm system, and he’s now one of the more advanced ones after a decent 2018 season split between A and A+. Marsh was notably dominant in what became the last game of the playoffs for the Inland Empire 66ers (A+) on Monday as he went 4 for 6 with a HR and 3 RBIs in a losing effort. Marsh will finish his 2018 season at A+ with a .256/.348/.385 batting line with 7 HRs and 10 SBs in 426 PAs. He did show excellent patience with a 12.2% walk rate, but ran into some strikeout issues as a result with a 27.7% mark. Now his 9.5% swinging-strike rate at A+ is above-average and suggests that his strikeout issues are somewhat related to his patience. All told he was worth a 102 wRC+ at A+ Inland Empire and he’ll look to carry the momentum of his final game into 2019.
Albert Abreu (SP, New York Yankees) Age: 22, Level: AA
Originally acquired by the Yankees in 2016 by way of the Brian McCann to the Astros deal, Abreu has developed into one of the Yankees top pitching prospects due to a strong pitching repertoire. He put together one of his best starts of the season this week with 5 innings of shutout ball, striking out 4 batters against 1 walk, while not allowing a single hit. His season-long numbers have not reflected the sort of dominance that he showed this week as he has managed a disappointing 5.20 ERA over 72.2 innings pitched in 2018 with 74 strikeouts against 32 walks. Over 13 starts at A+ which is his biggest sample, he fought his control with a 10.6% walk rate and also had brutal luck with a 14.8% HR/FB rate that led to an inflated 1.29 HR/9. Also of note is that his 10.6% swinging-strike rate is just average. His 4.99 FIP and 3.99 xFIP do suggest that he was a touch unlucky but still, the underlying metrics don’t love Abreu’s season. This could create an opportunity to buy him on the cheap if you still like his dynasty outlook.
Daz Cameron (OF, Detroit Tigers) Age: 21, Level: AAA
Acquired as from the Astros in the Justin Verlander blockbuster deal and pictured above with his old organization, Cameron has had a strong 2018 minor league season and he has carried that into the AAA playoffs at just 21 years old. On Wednesday, he was a perfect 3 for 3 with 1 SB plus a walk, and then followed it up on Thursday with a 1 for 3 performance plus a walk. He had a total of 15 AAA games on his resume before the playoffs, but he’s quickly showing that he is ready for the challenge. Cameron spent a large portion of his year at AA where he slashed .285/.367/.470 with 5 HRs and 12 SBs in just 226 PAs. Now some people may point to the .470 slugging mark at AA and suggest it’s a product of the Eastern League’s short porch ballparks, but the Erie Seawolves ballpark actually plays very neutral and Cameron did pretty well all of his damage at home with a .312/.375/.550 mark at home compared to .253/.358/.374 on the road. Also interesting to note that Cameron’s lowest flyball rate across his 3 levels this year came at AA. Regardless, he’s shown an intriguing power/speed combo this year and should be moving up prospect rankings slightly.
Jackson Kowar (SP, Kansas City Royals) Age: 21, Level: A
A compensation 1st round pick this year out of the University of Florida, Kowar has pitched a lot this year including 112 innings in college and 26 more in his first taste of professional baseball. He upped that number slightly with a strong playoff performance on Wednesday. He had a 5 inning performance in which struck out 5 batters without giving up a walk and allowing 5 hits and just 1 ER. Kowar finishes with regular season numbers of a 3.42 ERA with 22 strikeouts against 12 walks in 26 innings pitched which isn’t ideal, and his 4.06 FIP and 4.16 xFIP do suggest that he’s been lucky to date. His 13% swinging-strike rate is above-average though and he combines that with a very good 58% groundball rate which gives hope that he can improve his run prevention skills going forward.
Kyle Lewis (OF, Seattle Mariners) Age: 23, Level: AA
Lewis’ professional career likely hasn’t gone as he had envisioned after being drafted 11th overall in 2016 between an ACL tear just 30 games into his career and then the subsequent mediocre numbers afterward. Lewis spent the year split between the hitter-friendly California League where he put up a .260/.303/.429 line that was worth a 94 wRC+ over 211 PAs, and then AA Arkansas in the Texas League where he put up a .220/.309/.371 line that was worth an 87 wRC+. He’s struck out at a combined 23.9% mark and walked at a 7.7% mark while posting a 14.6% swinging-strike rate at A+ and 11.9% at AA which are both a bit below average. The good news is that he had a strong first playoff game this Wednesday in which he went 2 for 4 with a HR and a SB. Hopefully for his dynasty league owners this success can be carried into next year.
Shane Baz (SP, Tampa Bay Rays) Age: 19, Level: ROK
The player to be named later in the recent Chris Archer deal, Baz joins Rays farm system deep in pitching talent. Baz had just 2 regular season starts as a member of the Rays organization and struggled to the tune of a 7.71 ERA with more walks than strikeouts over 11 innings pitched. He saved his best start for the playoffs though with a 5.2 inning performance on Wednesday with 7 strikeouts against 2 walks, while allowing 4 hits and 1 ER. His season ERA in the Appalachian Rookie League this year over 52.1 innings finished at 4.47 and he racked up 59 strikeouts against 29 walks along the way. Control continues to be a major issue for him with a league-worst 11.9% BB rate and he’s continually posted poor BAPIP’s including a .356 mark this year which suggests the contact that he is giving up isn’t ideal. He is now in a Rays organization that has a track record of helping pitchers find their command and the hope is that he can take steps forward in 2019.
Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 20, Level: AA
Bo Bichette has largely been in the shadow of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. this year, but he has put together a strong season in his own right as one of the very youngest in the Eastern League. He has been on fire down the stretch of the season with a .326/.383/.505 line over 46 games post-all-star break. He has remained hot in the playoffs and been especially hot this week with at least 1 hit in every game. He notably had 2 multi-hit performances on Wednesday and Thursday in the first two games of the series against the Trenton Thunder in which he went a combined 5 for 8 with 1 SB. He will finish with regular season numbers of .286/.343/.453 with 11 HRs and 32 SBs and supported it with solid 8.1% walk and 17% strikeout rates. His 10% swinging-strike rate is a touch above-average and overall he will finish with a 120 wRC+ which is impressive for a SS. Look for him to remain a consensus top-10 prospect going into next year!