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 5:
Byron Buxton MIN, OF – Turned it on for real this week, hitting his first three homers of the season. He’s now slashing .276/.344/.534 at Triple-A, and it looks like whatever had to be corrected with his swing has been corrected. If I were a betting man (I am), I would bet a lot of money that he will not hit like a little leaguer when he gets called back up.
Chris Shaw SF, 1B – In the comments section of my Finding the Next A.J. Reed article, “The Baltimoron” mentioned Chris Shaw could be an underrated breakout candidate as well. And boy was he right, as Shaw is crushing it at High-A, slashing .337/.402/.615 with 6 homers. You modest bastard you, “The Baltimoron,” more like “The Baltigenius.”
Yoan Moncada BOS, 2B – The power is starting to come around, as Moncada launched his first three homers of the season this week, and is slashing .317/.450/.510 with 19 steals in 28 games at High-A. With Corey Seager and Buxton officially losing their prospect eligibility, Moncada is probably in a battle with Julio Urias to be the #1 fantasy prospect in the game right now.
Julio Urias LAD, LHP – Speaking of which, there have been rumors the Dodgers may call up Urias to pitch out of the pen this season, because when has rushing a 19-year-old pitching prodigy, with less than 100 IP above A-ball, to pitch out of the bullpen ever backfired on a team?
Brendan Rodgers COL, SS – A legitimate argument can be made that Rodgers is the top fantasy prospect right now too. He is treating Single-A pitchers like cable companies treat their customers, completely bulldozing them to the tune of .358/.421/.642, with 7 homers, and 2 steals in 27 games. I doubt High-A will cause him many problems, either.
Jose De Leon LAD, RHP – Didn’t take long for De Leon to remind me of why I ranked him the 14th overall fantasy prospect coming into this season, as he went 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BB, and 9 K’s in his first of the year. His K upside is as good or better as any pitcher in the minors.
Carson Fulmer CHW, RHP – Fulmer has looked a lot better after his terrible first two starts, and he further solidified himself this week with a 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BB, 7 K performance. His fastball command was giving him trouble in the early going, which he blamed on being too amped up. If you have ever watched Fulmer pitch, you know his intensity is always dialed up to 11, so that is quite believable. If he keeps pitching well, it is not out of the question for him to force his way into Chicago’s rotation later this season. I would have him on my radar as a deeper league redraft stash.
Lucas Giolito WASH, RHP – Fulmer’s command issues have now been passed on to Giolito, and we unfortunately have to add Giolito to the slow start watch list. After four very mediocre starts to begin the season, he threw up an absolute disaster this week, going 3 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BB, 4 K. It has only been 18.2 IP, and I’m sure he will eventually find his rhythm and turn it around.
Blake Snell TB, LHP – Well, this will teach teams to call up their stud prospects for spot starts with no intention of keeping them up, and at Yankee Stadium to boot. Snell has lost all control and command since being sent back down, and I have to believe it is a just an issue of losing focus after getting back on that minor league bus and $25 per diem grind. He’ll be fine.
Tyler Glasnow PIT, RHP/Jameson Taillon PIT, RHP – Glasnow: 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 11 K – Taillon: 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BB, 3 K. It is literally a full blown arms race to see who gets the call first.
Dansby Swanson ATL, SS – Promotion to Double-A hasn’t slowed Swanson down at all, as he is slashing .310/.444/.517 in his first 8 games at the level. He still has only 3 homers in 51 career minor leagues games, and he is not considered a burner, so I’m not sure the hot start moves the needle much in either direction. I ranked him 25th overall in the off season, and he is a good fantasy prospect, but he may never develop that big power or speed. Considering he is also contending with Ozzie Albies to be Atlanta’s SS of the future, I would be sniffing out some sell high opportunities right now.
Trea Turner WASH, SS, – Who needs a stud 22-year-old SS slashing .321/.391/.455, with 2 homers, and 12 steals at Triple-A, when you have a .200 hitting Danny Espinosa and .143 hitting Stephen Drew tearing it up in the majors? 2022 is probably much more important. To be fair to Washington, Turner does have 5 errors in only 26 games, and there have been more than a few scouts who have suggested he is better off at 2B long term. For now, I would still assume we see Turner in the big leagues by July at the latest.
J.P. Crawford PHI, SS – The only thing to note about Crawford’s start to the season is how there is remarkably little to note about it. He is just doing what he does best, controlling the strike zone, and displaying his moderate power/speed combo.
Austin Meadows PIT, OF – Triple-slashing .177/.255/.195 in his first 11 games at Double-A. It’s almost like fracturing the orbital bone in his right eye has negatively affected his hitting.
Harrison Bader STL, OF – I’m seriously not trying to write about Bader in every rundown, but he keeps topping his performance from the previous week and it makes it hard not to. He put up a .407 batting average this week, struck out only 14% of the time, and is 2/2 in stolen base attempts since May 1. The K% and steals were both areas of concern even with his scorching start. The arrow continues to point up.
Paul DeJong STL, 3B – Went on a homer binge this week like I binge on Netflix and Chinese food. He has hit 5 homers in May, bringing his season total up to, um, 5. He hit 9 dingers last year splitting time between Rookie ball and Single-A, and ho hum, St. Louis has another underrated hitting prospect who they scooped in the 4th round of last year’s draft.
Tom Murphy COL, C – Murphy finally got his season underway after being out with the dreaded, lingering oblique injury, and he wasted no time in showing why I loved him so much, smashing a homer in his second game back. Nick Hundley is currently dealing with an oblique injury of his own, and it may open a door for Murphy to make an impact this season if he keeps playing well. The oblique giveth and taketh away.
Willson Contreras CHC, C – Contreras has already been displaying his elite plate approach and contact skills in the early going at Triple-A, and now he has added some power as well. He hit his first two homers of the year this week, and he remains one of the very best fantasy catcher prospects in the game.
Brad Zimmer CLE, OF – Power, speed, and K’s galore. The 6 homers and 11 steals in 27 games is drool worthy, but striking out 31% of the time as 23-year-old in Double-A is concerning. I’m starting to think his batting average will be closer to .250 than .270.
Aaron Judge NYY, OF – After treading water for most of the season, Judge Dredd lived up to his nickname by crushing 3 homers this week, bringing his season total up to 6. He also still has a 27% K%. I think we are definitively starting to see the player Judge is/will become, a low average, high K power hitter with very good, but not elite power.
Gary Sanchez NYY, C – The Sanchize (Mark Sanchez has really ruined that nickname forever, huh) has also started to mash this week, going deep 3 times. He is slashing .283/.336/.566, with 5 homers, and 2 steals in 24 games at Triple-A. Considering he plays in an extreme pitcher’s park, the line looks even more impressive.
Brett Phillips MIL, OF – Phillips must have heard me when I was talking shit about his power potential in last week’s rundown, as he cranked 4 homers this week, and hit 3 in one game! Needless to say, the power is looking better now.
Raimel Tapia COL, OF – Finally got it going this week, slashing .304/.360/.652, with 2 homers, and 1 steal at Double-A. Time to take him off the slow start watch list.
Raul Mondesi Jr. KC, SS – Remember when I said it might be time to start getting excited about Mondesi? Well, it wasn’t time, as his season line has now fallen to .230/.280/.440, with 5 homers, and 11 steals in 24 games at Double-A. He is still flashing that tantalizing power and speed, so we just have to stay patient.
Tyler Jay MIN, LHP – Got back on track this week (6.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BB, 7 K) after getting hammered by the Hammerheads last week. It’s a good sign to see him bouncing back after rough starts.
Brent Honeywell TB, RHP – Just keeps dominating High-A hitters. I was questioning whether I should have even included him in the rundown because his dominance is getting kinda mundane at this point.
Jose Pujols PHI, OF – The 20-year-old Pujols has always had huge raw power and plus bat speed, but it is just now starting to show up in games. He hit 3 homers this week, and that gives him 7 homers on the season in 27 games at Single-A. He is striking out 33% of the time, but he is still an intriguing deep league power prospect.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)