With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four levels (not to mention the Dominican Summer League and the Rookie Complex leagues in Arizona and Florida), identifying the next prospect breakout can be difficult.
If you wait until end-of-season wrap-ups, a prospect may get too much coverage and no longer be available. You can scout stat lines all year, but that can be tedious, and it’s difficult to keep an eye on every tweet and post.
We may have renamed this column but fear not, intrepid dynasty league manager, this is still THE place to find your potential prospect diamonds in the rough.
For those unfamiliar, this is a weekly column where I’ll select four prospects (typically 2 hitters and 2 pitchers) who performed outstandingly in the prior week. Not only will you get a name, but also we’ll dive into what powered their results and where their future value stands.
“But,” you may think to yourself, “what makes this column so different than any of the countless other blurbs, rundowns, and general prospect lists that are published?” Glad you asked!
First and foremost, this column is dedicated to the deep dynasty manager. If you’re in an 18-team league, or rostering 30+ minor leaguers, then this is your spot.
Secondly, and I don’t want to honk my horn (toot toot) but in year 1, we had a pretty solid track record of recognizing some names that have risen in value entering this season including: Kyle Manzardo, Yainer Diaz, Evan Carter, Justin Dirden, and Will Benson.
NOTE: The stats for this week’s Watchlist is comprised of two weeks’ worth of data.
Player of the Week: 2B Termarr Johnson, PIT, Low A
Stats: (9 games) 12-31, 4 HR, 2 doubles, 9 RBI, 9 runs, 1 SB
It probably seems ridiculous to include a top 100 prospect in a watchlist article this deep in the season but hear me out. I actually think you could swing an affordable deal for Termarr even after the monster two weeks he’s had recently.
Termarr Johnson? Hotter.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 22, 2023
Remember, this was a prospect that was being mentioned as having an uncanny hit tool and power combo, one that many managers likely thought would’ve moved him up quickly, especially given his org’s rebuilding status.
Instead, Termarr’s repeating Low A and a quick look at his cohort, and you can see where a manager may be more willing to move off of Johnson if offered some capable MLB talent. There’s some underlying data, specifically his sub 70% contact rate, that’s still concerning to me but if there’s ever been a “buy low” window for Johnson, now seems to be it.
Honorable Mention: 3B Luke Adams, MIL, Low A
Stats: (6 games) 10-21, 2 HR, 3 doubles, 7 RBI, 8 runs, 5 SBs
A name that’s catching more and more helium by day, Adams’ unique skillset of speed, power, and plate discipline is creating a valuable prospect profile. Sporting an 8% SwStr rate while hitting 44% FB as a teenager puts you in good company, along with the likes of Edgar Quero, Roman Anthony, and Adael Amador to name a few.
When you look at the “how” behind these numbers, it’s all the more remarkable. Adams has an intensely unorthodox load and swing, complete with a leg kick and hand pump as the ball approaches.
It’s yet to be proven whether this setup can have success against higher-tier fastballs up in the zone and breaking balls off the plate. But for right now, Adams is the exact type of non-top 100 player that you hope to find at this point in the year; pick him up and watch him rise as we go into the end of the season.
Pitcher of the Week: SP Drew Thorpe, NYY, High A
Stats: (2 starts) 15 IP, 3 ER, 8 hits, 3 BB, 23 Ks
I honestly tried to find a reason not to put Thorpe in this spot, but it’s incredibly difficult when you look at his results both over the past two starts and his entire season.
The @HVRenegades have a new single-game strikeout king 👑
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 23, 2023
The two big knocks against Thorpe are his advanced age (22 years old) and his change-up heavy pitch mix.
As far as age, he’s been an older college arm, likely influenced by his COVID shortened freshman season, and his assignment directly to High A is actually developmentally appropriate. However, for some reason, the Yankees have yet to promote him even after his teammate Chase Hampton was moved to AA in June.
Regarding his pitch mix, yes, he leans on the change-up to play up his fastball’s average velocity (it sits around 94MPH) and after Gavin Stone was given fits, many in the industry have over-corrected away from that combination. It is something that Thorpe will have to deal with as he progresses but unlike Stone, he commands an above-average slider as another pitch to generate whiffs.
This means he has two offspeed pitches he can utilize against both sides of the plate both in and out of the zone, to keep hitters off of his fastball. Thorpe’s floor is exceptionally high and if he can find success in the upper minors, his value increases exponentially.
Honorable Mention: SP Griff McGarry, PHI, AA
Stats: (2 starts) 13 IP, 1 ER, 8 hits, 2 BB, 19 Ks
You could probably argue that a few pitchers could’ve been slotted here but I wanted to highlight McGarry because of his recent bout of success. 19 strikeouts against 2 walks! We’ve always known McGarry had strikeout stuff but it was always a question of commanding it.
While his overall season is still a work in progress regarding walks (14.1% BB, yikes), this marks two straight starts pointing in the right direction.
If something has finally clicked for McGarry, there’s incredible upside and because of his previous command issues, it’s likely that he’s very cheap to get in your league. Keep an eye on McGarry’s next couple of starts to see if this sticks, before going to grab him.