Every Monday, I will be running down some of the notable performances from around the Minor Leagues, or anything that might have caught my eye in general. Here is the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: Week 20:
Tom Murphy COL, C – Strikeout problems? What strikeout problems? Murphy has a 16/9 K/BB in his last 31 games, and only 4 K’s in 14 August games. The power has been just fine too, swatting 10 bombs over that 31 game span. Not only is his stock in Dynasty Leagues on the rise, but he can make a serious impact on re-draft leagues in September.
Gary Sanchez NYY, C – Talk about a catcher making a serious impact on fantasy leagues, Sanchez crushed 4 more bombs this week. With Sanchez and Willson Contreras already making their mark in the majors, and Murphy not far behind, fantasy catcher production is going to get a major boost next season.
Yermin Mercedes BAL, C – If you are looking for a deep league catcher sleeper, Yermin Mercedes is one to keep your eye on. And I guarantee it will be the cheapest Mercedes you will ever buy. Mercedes was an Independent League find by Baltimore in 2014 after he absolutely destroyed the league as a 21-year-old, crushing 17 bombs and hitting .380 in 60 games. He had a solid debut season with Baltimore last year, but be has really broken out this season, slashing .337/.402/.571 with 19 homers and a 78/43 K/B in 109 games split between Single-A and High-A. He is old for the level at 23 years old, but a lot of that has to do with the unique circumstances of his career, and he has hit well at every league he has played in since 18 years old. The power is also definitely very real, as he is built like a little pit bull, and has plenty of bat speed. He might not stick at catcher, especially with Baltimore, but he is a deep sleeper bat to watch at any position.
Lucas Giolito WASH, RHP – It’s about damn time Giolito had a statement game like this, going 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BB, 10 K. Even with all of the consternation surrounding him this year, he still has a pitching line of 3.22/1.36/109 in 106.1 IP.
Josh Hader MIL, LHP – Hader had a statement game of his own last night, going 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BB, 12 K. Surprisingly, this is his first double-digit K game of the season, but it just goes to show how consistent he has been all year maintaining an 11.6 K/9.
Jose De Leon LAD, RHP – Continues to impress in the PCL, spinning 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BB, 10 K. Dodger Stadium will be the perfect park for his fly ball tendencies.
A.J. Puk OAK, LHP – 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BB, 5 K. Control was the major question with Puk coming into the draft, and he has done everything he could in pro ball to answer those questions with a 32/6 K/BB in 25 IP at Low-A. Keep in mind that Low-A (or more accurately named short-season A ball) is a glorified Rookie Ball league, so I would take these numbers with a grain of salt.
Willie Calhoun LAD, 2B – Speaking of grains of salt, the too small to be good Calhoun just keeps ripping it up, knocking 2 more dingers this week to give him 27 on the year.
Brendan Rodgers COL, SS – The #3 ranked prospect in my mid-season top 100, Rodgers exploded for 4 homers this week, giving him 19 on the season in 103 games. I ranked him one spot ahead of Alex Bregman, who has started to turn it on himself this week, knocking his first 3 homers of his MLB career.
Dansby Swanson ATL, SS – On Ep. 3 of the Razzball Prospect Podcast, Ralph Lifshitz and I talk about our modest expectations for Swanson in fantasy (.250/.294/.313 in 17 MLB PA’s), and also talk about some of the other buzzy prospect names of the week. We finish the show with a Milwaukee Brewers’s top 10 fantasy prospects ranking in honor of our first ever guest, JB Gilpin.
Joey Gallo TEX, 3B/1B – 3 more dingers and 14 more strikeouts. His improved K rate has slowly deteriorated as the season has progressed, but I’m still betting on his unrivaled power.
Alen Hanson PIT, 2B/3B/OF – .309/.374/.495 with 3 homers and 7 steals in the last month. Pitt has him starting all over the field (2B/3B/OF), so it certainly looks like they are preparing him for a utility role, at least for September. I still like Hanson for fantasy, but he is more of a sleeper at this point who is going to have to earn playing time in the majors, as opposed to a guy who gets a starting job with some leash right out of the gate.
Josh Ockimey BOS, 1B – Has fallen into a deep slump, slashing .136/.313/.212 in his last 20 games. Not exactly the lasting mark you want to leave on your breakout season.
Mitch Keller PIT, RHP – Threw his third shutout in a row this week, going 18 IP, 0 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BB, 21 K over that span. He doesn’t have lockdown #1 starter stuff, but his control is impressive, walking a grand total of 16 batters in 119.1 IP.
Jacob Faria TB, RHP – Had his first 0 BB game in Triple-A, going 7 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BB, 8 K. He hasn’t had the best statistical season, but he has kept the K’s up all the year, and he might even earn a spot MLB start or two in September.
Grant Holmes LAD, RHP – First 4 starts with Oakland have been a disaster, going a combined 19 IP, 19 ER, 36 Hits, 4 BB, 11 K. I wouldn’t be too worried as he is establishing new highs in IP, but it does bring up the concern of if these stud pitching prospects can maintain their stuff for 180+ IP. You can’t really know for sure until they do it.
Wladimir Galindo CHC, 3B – The 6’3’’, 210-pound Galindo was a top prospect from the 2013 international signing period who was known for his raw power. And that raw power has continued to develop this year, knocking 8 homers in 54 games at Low-A as a 19-year-old. He is still raw, as evidenced by his 29.6% K rate, but his potential to become a fantasy beast is obvious.
Tommy Edman STL, SS/2B – Like clockwork, St. Louis has another mid-round draft pick (6th rd pick this year) who has immediately excelled in pro ball. Edman is slashing .305/.416/.473 with 4 homers, 5 triples, 12 doubles, and 14 steals in 52 games at Low-A. He has elite contact skills, putting up a 22/37 K/BB, which backs up his 57/76 career K/BB in 168 games as a 3-year starter at Stanford. His upside isn’t sky high, and he may top out as a utility infielder, but I know better than to bet against St. Louis draft picks.
Ryne Birk HOU, 2B – It’s no wonder Birk got no respect coming into the draft this year (13th rd pick) being a small 2B and all, but he put up very solid numbers in the SEC, slashing .310/.378/.478 with 7 homers and 8 steals (he hit 10 homers his Sophomore year), and is now carrying that success over to pro ball (.293/.385/.455 with 4 homers and 5 steals). Like Edman, his best skill is his plus hit tool (16/21 K/BB in 43 games split between Low-A and Single-A) and as you know from his college stats, there is some pop in his bat too. Even though he was picked 7 rounds later, I might actually prefer Birk to Edman, although I like them both.
Harol Gonzalez NYM, RHP – Gonzalez leads the NYPL (short season A ball) in K’s, putting up the lights out pitching line of 1.72/0.93/77 in 68 IP. He is a small righty, and doesn’t have a big fastball (88-94 MPH), but he already has a great feel for pitching, using two different plus changeups, to go along with solid command, and a developing curve to lay waste to Low-A hitters. If he fills out a little more and tacks some extra velocity on his heater, the Mets could have themselves another fast rising pitching prospect.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)