Good Morning, everyone. Every weekend, I will be posting about the minor leaguers you should be stashing on your team. These rankings are done solely for prospects with the potential impact the 2019 season. Their ranks are predicated between when they will be called up and raw talent—we want to give you an edge in building your team throughout the year. Prospects are a great way to stay ahead of the curve once the most notable prospects are called up. Not all prospects need to be stashed in every league as not all league compositions are made equally.
Yordan Alvarez added two home runs this past week, bringing his season total to 12 while hitting .407. There is no player hotter in all of baseball than Alvarez and he is crushing Triple-A in a way that even Vlad Guerrero Jr. never quite had the opportunity to do. He is demanding a spot in the Houston lineup and while it would be a tight fit with everyone in Houston hitting well lately, he is a clear future All-Star.
2. Oscar Mercado, OF, (Cleveland Indians) – ETA Late May
Oscar Mercado had an abbreviated week and did little with the opportunities presented, but is still batting .277 with 2 home runs and 13 stolen bases (the most in Triple-A). Mercado could slide in anywhere in Cleveland’s outfield and be an improvement as the team sports one of the worst hitting outfields in baseball. With Cleveland’s dynamic rotation, they are going to be in the mix to win the AL Central again this year, Mercado would be a boon to those efforts.
While Lourdes Gurriel Jr. may get the first crack at second base given he is already on the 40-man roster – Cavan Biggio has been justifying his own call-up slashing .338/.486/.613 with 6 home runs and 3 stolen bases. Biggio can play around the infield, which will give him some real-life versatility if the team were to give him a chance. The question between the two will be whether Gurriel Jr. has rebuilt his confidence after struggling with a case of the “yips” earlier this season.
Despite a 30% strikeout rate, Keston Hiura is finding success in Triple-A batting .308 with 8 home runs and 2 stolen bases this year. Hiura will represent an upgrade to Milwaukee’s infield if the team were to shift Mike Moustakas back to third base and leave Hiura at second. The low walk rate (4.8%) compared to a high strikeout rate, does give pause for concern about the translation to Major League success, but looking at Hiura’s abbreviate minor league career that number should fall as he adjusts.
Now posting a double-digit walk rate (11.4%) and a healthy .319 batting average, Detroit is looking like they got a steal in trading Leonys Martin last year to Cleveland for Willi Castro. While the Organization is clamoring about Isaac Paredes (deservedly), Castro is putting together a justifiably successful Triple-A season worthy of a call-up to one of the league’s worst teams.
STILL tied with Yordan Alvarez for most home runs (12), Kevin Cron is quietly demolishing Triple-A pitching this season. Cron has been consistent in the minor leagues with 20+ home runs each season with close to a .300 batting average, but this year he is unleashed. If he had a clearer path to playing time in Arizona he would be right below Alvarez, but there is no definitive place for him to play. While he has been playing games at third base for the first time this season, he is blocked by Eduardo Escobar, Christian Walker, and Jake Lamb. Walker has been rock solid as a replacement for Lamb and without a designated hitter position, Cron is set to waste away in Triple-A for a second year.
Jacob Wilson did not keep pace with Yordan Alvarez and Kevin Cron this week, staying at 10 home runs in Triple-A ball. Despite his age, Wilson has gone through a renaissance this season, finally breaking out and is the hottest bat in Washington’s minor league system slashing .295/.376/.674 and an 11.7% walk rate with room to improve across the board. He has played around the infield in the past, but has spent most of his season at second and third base – while he did not get the call when Anthony Rendon hit the disabled list, he should be on Washington’s mind with such a torrid start.
Punctuated with highs and lows, Jorge Mateo has been one of baseball’s top prospects and he’s also struggled at times to live up to that moniker. In 2019, Mateo has slashed his strikeout rate by TEN PERCENT from last year’s full season in Triple-A and is batting .100 points higher as a result (.330). Mateo steals at a quick clip (7 so far) and while he does not walk enough for a true leadoff man, now sports a .371 OBP. Jurickson Profar has not lived up to his expectations and could open a role at second base if Oakland wants to continue to compete.
Josh VanMeter picked up this season where he left off last year in that for the first time in his minor league career, he has some pop. By some pop, I mean he’s leading the minor leagues in home runs (13) while still batting a healthy .346. Were VanMeter to get the call, it would be because of injury or to replace Derek Dietrich who is hitting a borderline acceptable .250 this season. VanMeter is walking 11.9% and despite six below average years in the minors is starting to profile as a breakout star at age 24.
Editors Note: This write up was done prior to VanMeter’s announced promotion.
Daz Cameron continues to walk at a solid 10% rate, but has done little to improve his prospect over the past week. While he is sure to be an improvement in Detroit, he is starting to profile like 2019 Christin Stewart. A low batting average, power, and the ability to walk – a low-grade three outcome player. He will need to pick things up to stay relevant and with other batters in the minor leagues starting to turn it on – may not be relevant on this list for much longer, a need in the Majors can only take one so far.