(Photo by Chris Williams/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 with many league champions already crowned!
Keibert Ruiz (C, Los Angeles Dodgers) Age: 20, Level: AA
The Dodgers teenage catching sensation out of Venezuela that signed for $140,000 back in 2014, Ruiz continues to exceed expectations with strong performances at the game’s most physically demanding position while being very young for the level. After a season in which he hit .268/.328/.401 with 12 HRs at AA while displaying excellent contact skills highlighted by an 8% strikeout rate and 6.3% swinging-strike rate, he has followed that up with a truly dominating playoff run that has contributed to his Tulsa Drillers winning the AA Texas League Championship. He played in 9 playoff games, and he didn’t strike out once while hitting .409 in the semifinals and then .214 in the finals. He notably had a walk-off single in the 10th innings of game 1 of the finals and then had a big HR in game 2 that put the Drillers ahead early in the first inning. Ruiz continues to show an advanced bat and he should be considered among the top catching prospects for dynasty purposes.
Tobias Myers (SP, Tampa Bay Rays) Age: 20, Level: A
A 6th round pick of the Baltimore Orioles who was acquired for SS Tim Beckham, Myers has quietly made a name for himself in a deep Rays farm system. His performance this week in game 1 of the Midwest League finals should help gain him some notoriety as he threw 5 innings of shutout ball while striking out 4 batters against 3 walks, while also allowing 3 hits. His control wasn’t as sharp as usual in this game as the 3 walks were the most he’s had in one game since June 3rd. He was able to get by executing when he needed to and getting some key groundball outs. Myers finished the regular season with a 3.71 ERA over 119 innings pitched with 101 strikeouts against 41 walks along the way. His 11.9% swinging-strike rate was a touch above-average but his FIP and xFIP of 4.15 and 4.17 respectively both suggest that he was ever so slightly lucky this year. He is in an organization with a quality track record of developing pitchers though and he should be on radars in deep dynasty leagues.
Josh Naylor (1B, San Diego Padres) Age: 21, Level: AA
The former 1st round draft pick out of Canada with big raw power who is pictured above, Naylor has consistently shown quality contact skills are atypical of most sluggers. While Keibert Ruiz and the Tulsa Drillers were able to win the Texas League Championships, Naylor was doing his best to prevent that with a .462 batting average in the series with more walks than strikeouts and even a SB chipped in. Naylor finished the regular season with a .297/.383/.447 batting line with 17 HRs and 5 SBs that was worth a solid 128 wRC+. He supported those numbers with an 11.1% walk rate and a 12% strikeout rate which really highlights his both his batting eye and contact skills. Speaking of contact skills, his 6.9% swinging-strike rate this year was elite and ranked 5th best in the league. If he can ever trim his 47.3% GB rate and hit more fly balls, he could really take off as a true power threat. Until then, he ranks as a 2nd tier 1st base prospect that is more of a mid to deeper dynasty league play.
Jonathan Stiever (SP, Chicago White Sox) Age: 21, Level: ROK
A recent 5th round pick out of the University of Indiana, Stiever has been truly dominant in the Pioneer League playoffs. After 28 fairly nondescript innings in the Pioneer League regular season in which his 33.6% strikeout rate was really the only notable thing that jumped out in his profile. He has dominated in two playoff starts though, with 3 shutout innings with just 1 hit allowed last week in the semifinals, and then 3 shutout innings again this week in the finals with 2 strikeouts against 1 walk and 2 hits allowed. His strikeout totals aren’t something new as he did lead the Big 10 conference in K’s this year. He’s likely not of much relevance in dynasty leagues yet except for the deepest of leagues, but he could be one to remember as a potential breakout arm for when he reaches full-season ball as he is fairly advanced with a 3 pitch mix currently.
Jazz Chisholm (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) Age: 20, Level: A+
A $200,000 international amateur signing back in 2015 out of the Bahamas, Chisholm has quickly risen through the D-backs system to become one of their very best prospects. He had a strong regular season this year that should intrigue fantasy baseball players due to a combination of power and speed that led to 25 HRs and 17 SBs. His batting line finished at a solid .272/.329/.513 this year and he supported it a 5.6% walk rate and poor 32.5% strikeout rate. His below-average 14.6% swinging-strike rate does suggest that the contact issues are real and it should be interesting to see how he handles the challenge of AA next year. He is making the most of the last of his A+ experience as he has helped the Visalia Rawhide reach the California League finals with a monster HR in game 2 of the semi-finals that reportedly came close to leaving the entire stadium. Chisholm has the profile of a high risk/high reward prospect with his contact concerns. but if he proves that he can hit at the upper levels of the minors and then the majors, he could be a star.
Dustin May (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers) Age: 21, Level: AA
I talked about the Tulsa Drillers success and championship win in the Keibert Ruiz portion of the article, but the guy who started the final game for the Drillers was Dustin May who came through with yet another solid performance. May went 5 innings in the championship-clinching game on Friday while striking out 3 batters against 0 walks, and allowed 7 hits and 2 ERs. May has been consistent all year with a 3.29 ERA at A+ over 98.1 innings pitched with 94 strikeouts against 17 walks, and then a 3.67 ERA over 34.1 innings pitched at AA. May continues to generate groundballs at a well above-average clip including a 56% mark at A+ and 52% at AA. He also misses bats highlighted by a 12.3% swinging-strike rate at A+ which gives him the dream combo of groundballs and K’s. He perhaps has gotten underrated in a fairly deep Dodgers farm system, but I think he has top 100 prospect upside and should be a big riser IMO on off-season prospect lists.
Forrest Wall (OF/2B, Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 22, Level: AA
A former supplemental 1st round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies that came to the Blue Jays by way of the Seung Hwan Oh trade, Wall has come to the Blue Jays AA team and played pretty much exclusively in CF and most recently helped them win the AA Eastern League Championship. Wall was a big factor in the final series by hitting a cool .400 with more walks than strikeouts and was also able to tack on a SB along the way. Wall finished his AA season with a .263/.343/.402 batting line with 10 HRs and 38 SBs which highlights a power/speed profile that could be of use if he’s able to refine his approach and contact skills going forward. His 26.1% strikeout rate along with a below-average 12.3% swinging-strike rate at AA are not ideal for someone without big power. He’s still a potential option for the Jays going forward as the organization lacks many future CF options in the upper levels of the minors (Anthony Alford is the other big name but he struggled in 2018) and so Wall may get a chance to prove himself.
Rogelio Armenteros (SP, Houston Astros) Age: 24, Level: AAA
A former $40,000 signing out of Cuba back in 2014, Armenteros has been a great value signing by the Astros. He put together a solid 2018 season with a 3.74 ERA and 134 strikeouts against 48 walks over 118 innings pitched at AAA. His 11.9% swinging-strike rate was slightly above-average but his FIP and xFIP both suggest that he was fairly lucky in 2018. He has made the most of his 2 playoff starts recently though including a 6 inning performance on Friday night in which he allowed just 1 ER in game 3 of the Pacific Coast League finals. He did allow 7 hits and only struck out 1 batter over those 6 innings which isn’t ideal, but he was able to limit the damage through effective control (0 walks) and weak contact. Looking at his dynasty league prospects, I don’t think he has a high upside, his stuff and numbers suggest a back of the rotation sort of profile, and the Astros are fairly deep pitching-wise which leaves him without a clear role going forward. He really should only be considered in the deepest of dynasty leagues at the moment.