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.
With that said, let’s get to this week’s prospects…
Player of the Week: 3B Graham Pauley, SDP, High A
Stats: (6 games) 10-24, 4 HR, 2 doubles, 12 RBI, 9 runs, 0 SBs
This week’s player jumped onto my radar after I came across his name while cruising through the ol’ social media timeline. Here’s an interesting comparison from industry vet Chris Clegg between Pauley and slightly more well-known Red Sox prospect Chase Meidroth:
I got a lot of messages from people upset about this post..
Graham Pauley: .281/.375/.618 9 HR/3 SB 21% K/11% BB/82% contact
Chase Meidroth: .205/.267/.289 0 HR/3 SB 29% K/6.7% BB/79% contact https://t.co/oWoSePaTFx
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) August 4, 2023
I found myself intrigued and, lo and behold, Clegg may certainly be on to something. Pauley is a prospect who is an older college bat (he only played two years of college ball, post-Covid season) but has a track record of solid numbers in wooden bat summer leagues.
While there’s an argument to be made that he’s been feasting on lesser experienced arms in the already hitter-friendly Low A California League (.361 average against younger hitters vs. .242 against older hitters), there’s more underneath the hood.
Pauley has a short, compact swing that is line drive-oriented which coupled with his plate discipline (43.5% Swing rate at High A, 8.4% Swinging Strike), is producing above-average contact rates.
Graham Pauley gets the first Hoosier State Tenderloins home run pic.twitter.com/fRY1qZxo4R
— Fort Wayne TinCaps (@TinCaps) August 3, 2023
This is a type of player profile that often gets overlooked, the floor is a utility LHH who posts 12-14 HRs with OBPs in the .330s. But if Pauley continues to optimize his swing to elevate pitches gap to gap, there is a 20+ HR ceiling that becomes much more intriguing.
Honorable Mention: 3B Rece Hinds, CIN, AA
Stats: (5 games) 7-20, 3 HR, 3 doubles, 11 RBI, 4 runs, 1 SB
Hinds has tumbled nearly off of all prospect radars, after posting continuously disastrous strikeout numbers through the low minors. Alongside the Reds’ recent youth movement, Hinds seemed doomed to the “big power/big strikeout” waste bin that has gathered so many prospects before him.
But thanks to a major adjustment in hand positioning and additional work with his hitting coach in Chattanooga, Hinds has seen an incredibly positive upswing.
Per Aram Leighton, the last 30 games for Hinds have looked like this: .382/.462/.873, 13 HR, 27 XBH, 10% BB, 25 K%. Now there’s still concern about Hinds’ overall hit tool; over the same period, he’s swinging 50% of the time and only making contact 67.5%.
But even if he’s still an aggressive hitter who swings and misses while hunting fastballs and hanging breakers on the outside edge, being able to work an average amount of walks while tapping into that 25+ HR potential brings his value up. For a team already on the rise, bringing up another dynamic, if streaky, bat adds even more bang to the party in Cincinnati.
Pitcher of the Week: SP Thomas Harrington, PIT, High A
Stats: (1 start) 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 hits, 1 BB, 11 Ks
Harrington may be having one of the most undervalued seasons of any recent first-round draft pick. After showing a matured four-pitch, traditional starter approach at Campbell, Harrington has put up two straight pro seasons where he’s looked better and better.
— Josh Norris 🐻 (@jnorris427) July 27, 2023
After dominating Low A in an 8-game stint this year in his first season as a pro, Harrington has moved on to improve his strikeout and walk numbers at the next level. In his last month specifically (33 IP), he’s throwing 52% strikes, with a 17% SwStr rate and 23.7% K-BB.
However, there’s still room for improvement; with Harrington’s fastball being low to mid-90s and his secondaries all playing off of that, High-A hitters have been able to make decent contact (.281 BAA and 17% Balls in Play in the last 33IP) and those extra baserunners have been coming around to score (68% strand rate for the season).
Still, Harrington is off to a good start with an SP3 ceiling ahead of him. The pitch mix gave him a great foundation and maintaining his command of the zone only enhances his profile. Given that he’s not prone to home runs, if he can learn how to suppress some additional contact, and pitch more effectively with men on base, Harrington could move quickly and quietly through the Pirates system.
Honorable Mention: SP Brycen Mautz, STL, Low A
Stats: (2 starts) 11 IP, 0 ER, 3 hits, 3 BB, 13 Ks
Mautz is a heavy sinker-and-changeup lefty, who generates swings and misses due to his ability to command his 3 main pitches (he throws a slider that’s the out pitch with a 26.2% K rate) along with his deceptive release point. The sinker itself is a classic soft contact creator, sitting low 90s and inducing 54% ground balls.
His curveball seems to be running a distant fourth so Mautz’s future success will really lie in his continued ability to stay down and on the edges of the zone while setting up his slider.
It’s not a super sexy profile but it’s effective. It’s a difficult profile to project great fantasy numbers but at worst, Mautz presents a crafty lefty option out of the bullpen as a long reliever and potential bullpen ace.