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.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 19, Level: AA
Not very often can you say that a minor league player is the talk of the baseball world, but that seems to be the case recently with Guerrero Jr. and his continued dominance of AA as the youngest player in the league. Guerrero Jr.’s week has included 15 hits in 8 games and is highlighted by a 4 for 5 performance on Wednesday with a HR and a SB. His overall season line is now up to .407/.456/.676 with 7 HRs, while walking and striking out at an 8.8% rate for both. That line has been worth a super impressive 210 wRC+. For reference, that is far and away the best mark for a 19-year-old at AA since Fangraphs has data (2006) with a minimum of 110 plate appearances: Jason Heyward had a 190 in 2009, Ronald Acuna had a 159 in 2017, Justin Upton had a 158 in 2007, and Mike Trout had a 156 in 2011.
Brusdar Graterol (SP, Minnesota Twins) Age: 19, Level: A
Graterol has put together a very strong start to his 2018 season in the Midwest League, and that continued this week with a dominant outing on Monday in which he struck out 10 batters while walking only one and giving up just 2 hits in 5.2 innings pitched. His season line is now at a 0.63 ERA with an impressive 21 strikeouts against just 1 walk in 14.1 innings pitched. That line is supported by a well above-average 14.1% swinging strike rate, and a 1.39 FIP as well as a 1.79 xFIP. What makes his numbers that much more notable is that he’s also among the very youngest pitchers in the league. He could be a big breakout arm on prospect lists within the next year!
Myles Straw (OF, Houston Astros) Age: 23, Level: AA
A former 12th round pick from 2015, Straw has quietly been rising up the Astros organizational ladder by utilizing his keen eye at the plate and double-plus wheels on the base paths. The last week has been a great example, as he’s struck out as many times as he’s walked while posting 9 hits and stealing 6 bases in 6 games. His season line is now up to .366/.457/.434 with 0 HRs and 27 SBs and that’s supported by an impressive 2.9% swinging-strike rate and a 13% walk rate. The 27 stolen bases are a league-leading tally in the entire minors and are 16 more than the next highest player in the Texas League which Straw plays in. That sort of speed along with Straw’s plus contact and patience skills makes him an interesting fantasy prospect for those looking for speed.
Jonathan Hernandez (SP, Texas Rangers) Age: 21, Level: A+
Hernandez had a terrific start on Wednesday, striking out 11 batters against just 1 walk, and giving up 5 hits and 2 ERs in 6 innings. That start actually raised his ERA slightly to a 2.23 in what has been a bit of breakout year for Hernandez. He’s been one of better starters in the Carolina League so far this year in 40.1 innings pitched, showing high-end swing and miss stuff this season highlighted by a 16.4% swinging strike rate that ranks third best in the league along with a league-leading .187 batting average against. That sort of ability to miss bats makes him a very interesting pitching prospect for fantasy and a potential riser on prospect list as we get closer to mid-season.
Estevan Florial (OF, New York Yankees) Age: 20, Level: A+
Florial had a breakout 2017 season, and he was off to a decent start this season too with a homerun and 5 stolen bases with a .246/.353/.343 batting line in 156 PAs before suffering a wrist injury on Thursday. He was dealt the official bad news a day later with the news that the wrist injury would require surgery and he is expected to be out until August. The injury also had the unfortunate outcome of putting an end to Florial’s 32 game on-base streak which was the longest in the Florida State League this year.
Alex Reyes (SP, St. Louis Cardinals) Age: 23, Level: A
The top-ranked Cardinals prospect struck out 12 batters through 5 scoreless innings on Monday, giving up just 1 hit and 2 walks along the way in a dominant rehab outing at Class A Peoria as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery. This is the 2nd rehab start for Reyes this year, and the plan is for him to have at least 2 more before being in a position to return to the majors. Reyes was notably throwing 100 MPH in his latest start, and that’s a good indicator that his high-end stuff is still intact. The exact role that Reyes is likely to have once he returns to the majors is undetermined, but the high-end repertoire that he possesses ensures that he will have a chance to be a high ceiling player either in the rotation or in the bullpen.
Ryan Mountcastle (3B, Baltimore Orioles) Age: 21, Level: AA
Mountcastle started his season late this year as his recovery from a broken hand that forced him to stay back in extended spring training a little longer. He’s done nothing but hit since returning to action though including on Tuesday in which he went 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs. His overall season line is now .324/.351/.382 with o HRs and 0 SBs with 3 strikeouts against 2 walks in 37 PAs. That line is supported by a roughly average 10.7% swinging strike rate. The lack of power so far is of note, but he’s hitting enough flyballs (46.9% Flyball rate) to suggest that he will not be without a HR on the season for too much longer (note that he hit 18 HRs last year split between A+ and AA).
Parker Dunshee (SP, Oakland Athletics) Age: 23, Level: A+
A 7th round pick last year out of Wake Forest, Dunshee has been performing as one of one of the better pitchers in the California League this year. He last pitched on Sunday where he went 7 innings, striking out 11 against 1 walk, and allowing 2 earned runs on 2 hits. That strong start pushed his season ERA to 2.70 along with an 11.70 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9. His 15.3% swinging-strike rate is well above-average and is among the league leaders in the California League. His 3.08 FIP and 3.27 also are impressive and show that he hasn’t been getting overly lucky to date. He may not be any more than a deep dynasty league consideration, but he’s performing well with a 4 pitch mix and may move fairly quickly.
Corey Ray (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) Age: 23, Level: AA
The former 5th overall pick from 2016, Corey Ray may finally be starting to figure out minor league pitching after a tough first two professional seasons. Ray is hitting .268/.346/.500 with 7 HRs and 7 SBs in 188 PAs this season. This past week was particularly impressive as he hit 5 HRs including 2 on Tuesday in a 4 for 5 performance with a stolen base. What’s notable about Ray this season is that he has cut into his strikeout rate, dropping it to a career-best 21.3% at the moment, and supporting that with a career-best 14.9% swinging-strike rate (still below average though). The combination of improved contact skills plus Ray’s power/speed combo makes him an intriguing fantasy prospect, and perhaps a potential buy-low candidate if the owner of him in your league has grown tired of his poor past performances.
Nick Neidert (SP, Miami Marlins) Age: 21, Level: AA
A former 2nd round pick of the Mariners that was acquired in the Dee Gordon deal during the offseason, Neidert has continued to have success in 2018 with a 3.25 ERA along with 45 strikeouts against 9 walks in 44.1 innings pitched. He pitched a 6.2 inning gem this week, allowing no runs, striking out 11, and giving up only 2 walks and 2 hits. His season line has been supported by a decent 10.4% swinging-strike rate, as well as a 3.13 FIP and 3.03 xFIP. With the Marlins lack of depth in the organization pitching-wise, he could be on the fast track to the majors with his advanced 3 pitch mix and control.
Raimel Tapia (OF, Colorado Rockies) Age: 24, Level: AAA
Tapia has struggled to find a consistent role in Colorado with the Rockies, but he continues to perform in the minors and he looks ready for the majors whenever he’s given the chance. He had a strong performance last Sunday in which he went 2 for 4 with a HR and 3 RBIs. His season line is now at .298/.352/.518 with 6 HRs and 6 SBs which shows Tapia’s combination of power, speed, and contact skills. Interestingly, his ISO is at a career-high .220 currently, but that may not last going forward as he’s currently got a low launch angle with a 25.4% flyball rate, and a very 18.2% HR/FB rate. Regardless, the combo of skills that Tapia is showing are of high value in fantasy and he could be a great value with a full-time role in the majors in the future.
Griffin Canning (SP, Los Angeles Angels) Age: 21, Level: AA
A 2nd round pick from last year, Canning has been one of the more hyped up prospects of 2018 due to a combination of strong scouting reports and impressive performances. Canning most recently pitched on Monday, going 4.1 innings and striking out 8 against 2 walks, and no hits allowed. That performance pushed Canning’s season line to a 1.49 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 17 walks in 36.1 innings split between A+ and AA. He’s supported that line with above-average swinging-strike rates in both leagues, a slight groundball lean, and a very impressive .153 batting average against. Look for him to fly up mid-season prospect lists with continued strong performances.