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 7:
Corey Seager LAD, SS – My #1 ranked prospect in my pre-season top 100, Seager has been scorching hot of late, launching 5 homers in his last 12 games. The recently turned 22-year-old Seager is now slashing .273/.328/.472 with 7 homers in 44 games in MLB this season, after dominating there in 27 games last season. I think it’s time for the Dodgers to call him up to the next level. Oh wait, MLB is the highest level, you say? Damn this kid is good.
Andrew Benintendi BOS, OF – It looks like Double-A might have actually slowed Benintendi down a little bit, as he has struck out 5 times in 4 games, after striking out only 9 times in 34 games at High-A. I think he will figure it out and be just fine, but it is a reminder that he was far too advanced for High-A to begin with.
Anfernee Grier Auburn University, OF – Meet the Andrew Benintendi of the 2016 MLB Draft. I ranked Grier 11th overall in my continuing 2016 MLB Draft Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: 11-21, and he has smacked 2 more homers since then. He is now slashing .366/.457/.576, with 12 homers, and 19 steals in 56 games in the SEC. I was tempted to rank Grier higher at the time I wrote the article, and I’m no longer tempted, because he will be in my top 10, and maybe even top 5 when I finish the rankings and put it all together.
Corey Ray Louisville, OF – My #2 ranked prospect on my MLB Draft Fantasy Prospect Rankings: 1-5, Ray jacked another homer and swiped another bag this week, giving him 14 homers, 37 steals (0 CS), and a .326/.398/.581 triple-slash in 56 games in the ACC. I ranked Kyle Lewis #1, but there is a real case to be made for Ray. They are really 1A and 1B at this point depending on what type of production you are looking for. While we are talking about draft prospects, my #3 ranked Draft Prospect, Zack Collins, launched another homer this week too, giving him 11 on the season.
Harrison Bader STL, OF – Little ole’ 3rd round pick Harrison Bader didn’t even need High-A, as he continued his assault on Double-A pitching this week, hitting another bomb (8) and stealing another base (6). If you haven’t checked out this excellent interview he gave to David Laurila over at Fangraphs, you should definitely give it read. My favorite part of the interview is where he talked about his hitting approach, and finished up by saying, “my primary goal is to make consistent hard contact.” That’s the attribute that made me so high on him to begin with, and if you hit the ball hard, the homers will come.
Yoan Moncada BOS, 2B – Everyone can’t stop gushing over Moncada’s hitting ability, and for good reason, but he has been nothing short of elite with his legs this year too. He stole 5 more bases this week, and now has 30 steals in 40 games, being caught only 6 times. That brings his minor league career total to 79 steals on 88 attempts in 121 games. For some reason, I still can’t get that excited about him. Oh that’s right, it’s because I’m a Yankees fan, and can’t get over how we let him slip through our fingers. I think I am in the 2nd stage of grieving, which is anger. That means bargaining and depression are coming next. Fun stuff.
Victor Robles WASH, OF – Popped 2 more dingers this week, bringing his season total up to 5 homers in 39 games. The power is showing up faster than anybody expected, and he is doing it while maintaining a .340 AVG and 20/10 K/BB. His upside is so sky high that it has to ask Air Traffic Control for clearance.
A.J. Reed HOU, 1B – Reed got back in action last night, going 1 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout. With Tyler White struggling of late, Reed can reach the big leagues in a hurry if he can get hot. If he is still available to stash in your league, now is the time to grab him.
Julio Urias LAD, LHP – The 19-year-old Urias threw another shutout this week, and he hasn’t given up an ER in 6 of his 8 starts this year in the PCL. He now sits comfortably as the best pitching prospect in baseball. Unfortunately, he has risen in the Dodgers system faster than his yearly IP totals could keep up, and he is likely to be used out of the Major League bullpen in order to trick his arm into thinking pitching 3-4 times per week is less stressful than just starting once every five games. Baseball teams just love to exploit that imaginary loophole.
Alex Reyes STL, RHP – Reyes made his season debut last night after being suspended for 50 games to start the season, and he dominated, going 4 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BB, 8K. He might never be able to paint the black, but when you throw 99 MPH, you really don’t have to. Definitely get Reyes back on your redraft stash radar.
Dillon Tate TEX, RHP/Carson Fulmer CHW, RHP/Tyler Jay MIN, LHP – This three headed monster will forever be linked after they were all taken in the top 10 of the 2015 Draft. Tate (1.2 IP, 7 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BB, 1K) and Fulmer (2.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BB, 2 k) both threw up absolute stinkers in their last outing, while Jay (6 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BB, 6 K) kept rolling. Looks like Minnesota’s risk of taking a college reliever in Jay just might pay off.
Grant Holmes LAD, RHP – 5 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BB, 8 K in his start this week. He now holds a 9.6 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9 in 42 IP at High-A. It’s nice to see his walk rate improve this year (4.7 BB/9 in 2015), but he’s been a bit more hittable, as well.
David Dahl COL, OF – 2 more homers and 2 more steals this week. Just another week at the office for one of the most exciting fantasy prospects in the game. The fact that he will get to play his home games at Coors Field almost makes my head want to explode.
J.P. Crawford PHI, SS – Promoted to Triple-A this week, where I’m sure he will continue to display his great, but thouroughly unexciting plate approach and moderate power/speed combo. I did still rank him 15th overall in the pre-season, and he can provide solid 5-category production at the SS position in the not too distant future.
Joey Gallo TEX, 3B – Gallo returned to action in Grande fashion this week after being out with a groin strain, mashing a homer in his 3rd game back. You can expect him to continue to be prospect blocked, and if I were a Gallo owner, I would be hoping he gets traded away at the deadline. Edit: He was just called up by Texas! I guess the Rangers are going to find playing time for him wherever they can.
Dansby Swanson ATL, SS – Has really turned it up a notch this week at Double-A, slashing .357/.400/.536 with 2 homers. It is nice to see him getting the power stroke going a little bit, and he now has 4 homers and 10 steals in 43 games this season. I honestly have no idea what Atlanta’s plans are with him and Ozzie Albies.
Alex Bregman HOU, SS/3B – Bregman mentioned in an interview recently that he gained 20 pounds of muscle this off season. Combine that with the 10 bombs (3 this week) that he has hit this season in Double-A, and I’m starting to think the power explosion is definitely for real. I projected him for 15 homers in the preseason, which was on the high side from everything I read, but 20+ looks to be the new expectation now. He does have only 3 steals on the year, so he might have traded some speed for power.
Jorge Mateo NYY, SS ¬ Mateo has now been successful in his last 7 steal attempts, after struggling there early in the season. He also tacked on another homer this week, and is slashing .313/.369/.528, with 5 homers, and 15 steals in 41 games at High-A. If he can keep this production up when he gets moved to Double-A, his prospect stock will soar even higher than it already is.
Mitch Keller PIT, RHP – Keller has been long overdue to make the Rundown, as he has been one of the fastest risers among the pitcher ranks this season. After struggling with a forearm injury last season, he has been on fire to start 2016, putting up a dominant pitching line of 1.40/0.69/52 in 45 IP. He has walked 3 guys all season. He throws a low 90’s fastball, plus curveball, and a developing changeup. Considering the success that Pittsburgh has had with pitching prospects in the recent past, Keller has a good chance of cracking many top 100’s if he can keep up his success this season.
Daniel Mengden OAK, RHP – Mengden is another fast rising pitcher who is long overdue for the Rundown. After dominating for 23 IP in a pitcher’s park at Double-A, he has done just as well at Triple-A in the PCL, going 27 IP, 2 ER, 16 Hits, 4 BB, 23 K in 4 starts. He fastball was seen topping out at 98 MPH earlier this year, and he throws a solid curveball and changeup as well. Mengden has a good chance of joining Oakland’s rotation later this season.
Jacob Faria TB, RHP – After struggling with his control all year, it was nice to see Faria absolutely dominate in his last outing at Double-A, going 7 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hit, 0 BB, 11 K. His K/9 has looked great this season at 10.1, but the 4.9 BB/9 is concerning. Considering he hasn’t had major control issues in the past, I think he will figure it out, and his last start was definitely a step in that direction.
Cody Bellinger LAD, 1B – After returning from a hip injury, Bellinger was ice cold to start the season, but he has absolutely caught fire of late, smashing another homer last night, giving him 3 this week and 4 on the season in 22 games at Double-A. He was a Cal League superstar last year, smashing 30 dingers, so displaying that power at Double-A is nice to see. I ranked him 95th in the preseason, and if he keeps powering up, he will rise fast in the rankings.
Hunter Dozier KC, 3B – The 24-year-old Dozier is officially back on the prospect map, as he has dominated since getting called up to Triple-A. He hit 3 more homers this week, bringing his season triple-slash up to .309/.382/.625, with 12 homers, and 4 steals split between Double-A and Triple-A. If you have been holding Dozier since he was a hyped 8th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, it looks like your patience is finally beginning to pay off.
Hunter Renfroe SD, OF – It must be hunting season, because Hunter Renfroe has been killing it this week as well, crushing 3 homers, bringing his slash line up to .327/.355/.588, with 8 homers, and 3 steals at Triple-A. He should get the call to the bigs at some point later this season.
Ryan McMahon COL, 3B – Smacked homers in back-to-back games this week, and McMahon is finally starting to break out of his early season slump. He also struck out only once, and there are finally some positives to point to for McMahon owners to get excited about.
Chris Shaw SFG, 1B – Shaw’s coming out party continues, smashing 3 more homers this week (one inside the park), bringing his season total up to 10 homers in 39 games at High-A.
Eloy Jimenez CHC, OF – The 19-year-old Jimenez is starting to unleash that massive plus power that made him a hyped international signing back in 2013. He crushed 4 homers this week, giving him 6 on the season, to go along with a .327/.363/.526 triple-slash in 39 games at High-A. The time to scoop him is definitely now.
Phillip Ervin CIN, OF – The 27th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Ervin is slashing .228/.347/.439, with 5 homers, and 17 steals in 36 games at Double-A. I like a bunch of the other deep sleepers who I wrote about in previous Rundowns more than Ervin, but he has the kind of power/speed combo that is worth keeping an eye on in case he can even moderately improve his hit tool. He doesn’t have major strikeout issues, and he knows how to take a walk, so I don’t think hoping for improvement there is a bad bet.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)