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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.
Christin Stewart (OF, Detroit Tigers) Age: 24, Level: AAA
Stewart is a former supplemental 1st round pick from 2015 out of the University of Tennesee, and he has moved relatively quickly on the basis of his powerful bat and a strong eye at the plate. He has continued to swing a powerful bat in 2018, and that includes a current 9 game hitting streak with HRs on Monday, Tuesday and Friday this week. His current line for the season sits at .300/.387/.589 with a very solid 11.3% walk rate and 18.8% strikeout rate, plus a career-best 9.9% swinging-strike rate. With the Tigers rebuilding, Stewart could find himself in the majors at some point this year if he continues to prove he can handle AAA well.
Chris Paddack (SP, San Diego Padres) Age: 22, Level: A+
Paddack initially gained some prospect buzz for a truly dominant 2016 season in A-ball split between the Marlins and Padres organizations as he was a part of the Fernando Rodney trade that season. He ended up needing Tommy John Surgery in late 2016 which caused him to miss all of 2017. He just completed his comeback by making his first start since surgery on Monday. Paddack picked up right where he left off in 2016, going 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 7 against 0 walks. He will need to build up innings again but Paddack has the traits of a quick moving prospect with polish on all 3 of his offerings including a changeup that is considered to be a 65-70 grade weapon.
Juan Soto (OF, Washington Nationals) Age: 19, Level: A+
I talked about him last week citing his promotion to Advanced-A Potomac, and Soto has done nothing but rake since and there may not be a hotter player in the minors right now. For the week, Soto has played in 5 games, and has 8 hits including 4 HRs, and has struck out just twice against 5 walks. He is putting up video game numbers with a 1.270 OPS at Advanced A-ball after putting up a 1,300 OPS at A-ball in Hagerstown as one of the youngest players in both leagues. His combined wRC+ over both levels is also second best in the entire minors right now with a 248 mark, only Mets prospect Peter Alonso is in front of him right now.
Jalen Beeks (SP, Boston Red Sox) Age 24, Level: AAA
One of the biggest stories in the minors right now, Beeks is straight up dominating his peers in AAA. Through 5 starts that span 26.1 innings pitched, he has a 1.71 ERA with 46 strikeouts against 7 walks, and just 18 hits allowed with only one of them being a HR. You read those strikeouts right, he has a ridiculous 15.72 K/9 right now and it’s supported by an outstanding 16.1% swinging-strike rate. Those numbers help support his incredible FIP and xFIP of 1.46 and 1.58 respectively. He is proving to be too good for AAA at this point and could see a promotion to Boston sometime this summer.
Francisco Mejia (C/OF, Cleveland Indians) Age: 22, Level: AAA
Considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball at the beginning of the season, Mejia has had a rough 2018 season in his first taste of AAA action. He has long been known for a plus hit tool, yet he’s been struggling to make quality contact and has limped to a .198/.241/.321 line with 3 HRs in 111 PAs. His strikeout rate is way up in AAA (22.5%), and so is his swinging-strike rate (12.8%), and he’s also walking at a much lower rate too. There could be other factors contributing to Mejia’s struggles including playing the outfield for the first time every 3rd game, as well as an ongoing legal battle. He may be starting to figure out AAA pitching now though as he had a 3 for 3 day on Friday with a HR. Regardless of his performance to date in 2018, he has proven enough in the past to suggest he is likely to bounce back.
Zac Lowther (SP, Baltimore Orioles) Age: 22, Level: A
The 74th overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft out of Xavier University, Lowther has been dominant in professional baseball so far including 2018 in which he currently has a 1.23 ERA with 39 strikeouts against just 3 walks, and only 9 hits allowed in 22 innings pitched. That line comes with a will above-average 16.6% swinging strike rate, a 1.55 FIP, and 1.51 xFIP which are all among the very best in the South Atlantic League. His latest outing was a 6 inning, 8 strikeout performance with only 1 walk allowed. I’m curious to see how he does moving forward as he’s not a guy with elite stuff, but he’s a lefty with good deception and advanced polish that may just exceed expectations.
Yordan Alvarez (OF/1B, Houston Astros) Age: 20, Level: AA
A former $2 Million signee from Cuba that the Astros acquired from the Dodgers in a deal that sent Josh Fields to the Dodgers, Alvarez has quickly risen to prominence for his strong play at the plate. 2018 has been no exception, as he’s currently hitting .296/.377/.541 with 6 HRs and 5 SBs in 113 PAs which included a 2 HR performance on Tuesday. He’s shown a beautiful combination of power, patience, and contact so far highlighted by the 6 HRs along with a 12.3% walk rate and an 18.5% strikeout rate (7.9% swinging-strike rate). Note that he’s got a powerful build at 6 foot 5 and 225 lbs, and he has massive raw power as a result and I view him as one of the better power hitting prospects in the minors.
Travis MacGregor (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates) Age: 20, Level: A
I considered writing about MacGregor’s teammate Calvin Mitchell (OF) who is off to a good start, but ultimately decided that MacGregor deserved more spotlight on his potential breakout season. MacGregor was a 2nd round pick from 2016 (68th overall), and he’s currently posting a 2.42 ERA with 36 strikeouts against just 6 walks, and 18 hits given up with just 1 of them being an HR, in 22.1 innings pitched. That impressive line is supported by a 20.2% swinging-strike rate which ranks 2nd best in the South Atlantic League, as well as a 1.81 FIP and a 1.92 xFIP which suggest that MacGregor may actually be getting slightly unlucky. He continued his strong start to the season with a 5 inning, 8 strikeout performance on Monday.
Jasrado Chisholm (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) Age: 20, Level: A
A 2015 international amateur signing by the Diamondbacks out of the Bahamas, Chisholm has had a terrific start to his 2018 season in his return to the Midwest League after tearing his Meniscus in 2017 just 29 games into the season. He’s currently hitting an impressive .323/.400/.597 with 3 HRs and 4 SBs in 70 PAs. He has supported that line with an 11.4% walk rate and a 22.8% strikeout rate and overall has been worth a 184 wRC+ which currently ranks 4th best in the league. His week was highlighted by a 2 hit Thursday, one of those hits being a HR, as he pushed his hitting streak to 6 games (now 7 games long after Friday).
Stephen Gonsalves (SP, Minnesota Twins) Age: 23, Level: AAA
The Twins promotion of Fernando Romero to the majors meant an opening in the AAA rotation was available, and they promoted Gonsalves to the spot and he made his return to AAA (he had a 5 game sample at the end of 2017 in AAA) on Tuesday. The lefty responded by throwing 7 shutout innings, giving up just 1 hit, and striking out 5 and allowing only 1 walk. This last start continues the dominance of Gonsalves in 2018, as 1.29 ERA with 30 strikeouts against 11 walks, and just 12 hits given up in 28 innings pitched combined between AA and AAA. Gonsalves may be putting himself close to an MLB promotion with more strong showings throughout the year, where he could be a solid mid-rotation starter.
Colton Welker (3B, Colorado Rockies) Age: 20, Level: A+
Upon hearing that Welker was going to be assigned to Lancaster in the California League, he quickly became one of my personal favorite guys to follow throughout 2018 as I anticipated that his plus contact skills and developing power to really standout while playing half of his games in one of the very best hitting environments in all of the minors. The result has been that Welker has hit .318/.409/.505 with 4 HRs and 1 SB in 127 PAs so far. He’s showing much more patience this year, bringing his walk rate up to 13.3% from 6.5% last year. He’s also striking out way more too with a 24.4% mark which is far above his 15.1% mark from last year in A-ball. It should be noted though that Welker is currently sporting a 12 game hit streak which began on the 22nd of April and I am excited to see how long he can keep it going as he continues to refine his skills in Advanced-A!
Dylan Cease (SP, Chicago White Sox) Age: 22, Level: A+
Cease came to the White Sox as part of the package of prospects in the Jose Quintana deal, and he’s off to a great start in 2018 that was highlighted by a 7 inning, 2 hit, 12 strikeout performance with no walks on Tuesday. His overall numbers for 2018 now sit at an impressive 2.05 ERA with 36 strikeouts against 12 walks, and 15 hits given up with 1 of them leaving the yard in 26.1 innings. That line is supported by an impressive 17.3% swinging-strike rate as well as a 2.69 FIP and a 2.96 xFIP. He’s one of the higher upside arms in the White Sox system with his mid-upper 90’s fastball and hammer curveball, and he could really make a rise up top 100 prospect lists with continued success in 2018.
Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 20, Level: AA
His teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may be the big story in New Hampshire and among Blue Jays prospects, but Bo Bichette has been excellent too and the pair continue to be a force beside each other both in the lineup and in the field. For the season, Bichette is hitting .306/.376/.449 with 0 HRs and 8 SBs. The lack of power is slightly curious for a guy that has at least plus raw power, but the stolen bases are very intriguing to me as he currently ranks in a tie for 3rd in SBs in the Eastern League. Bichette like Colton Welker above is on a hitting streak, and Bichette is up to 10 games now. The wide array of skills that Bichette has shown in 2018 and in past years makes Bichette one of the more interesting real life and fantasy baseball prospects in the game and I’m curious and excited to see how he blends them together as a finished product.
Justus Sheffield (SP, New York Yankees) Age: 21, Level: AAA
Sheffield was acquired by the Yankees in the package sent Andrew Miller to the Indians and he’s quickly ascended up the organizational rankings, and was promoted to AAA on Thursday. The left-hander leaves AA after having posted a 2.25 ERA while holding opponents to a .163 average over five starts (28 innings) with Trenton. His 39 strikeouts were tops in the Eastern League while his 34.8% strikeout rate ranked second among the circuit’s 48 qualified pitchers at the time of his promotion. The only worrisome trend is his 14 walks, good for a 12.5% walk rate that was fifth-worst in the Eastern League. His last AA start was a 6 shutout innings gem with 9 strikeouts on Tuesday.