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 8:
2nd Lt. Ange, Sgt. Jackson, Spc. Mackenzie, 1st Lt. Carey, 2nd Lt. Del Pino, Staff Sgt. Thatcher, Sgt. Hill, Sgt. Rivera, Spc. Binge, and Spc. Chambers United States Army – In honor of Memorial Day, I thought the least I could do was include a soldier of the week in the Rundown, and in doing so I stumbled across 10 soldiers of the week. These men and women were the winners of the 10th AAMDC’s Best Warrior Competition, which is a grueling 4-day competition where the soldiers have to complete several mentally and physically strenuous challenges on only 3 hours sleep per night. 15 competitors started the competition, and these 10 soldiers were the ones left standing. Congratulations to them, and if you want to read more about the competition, you can check out this article.
Harrison Bader STL, OF – Went deep in back-to-back-to-back games again this week and now has 11 dingers on the season. For someone “definitely not trying to hit home runs,” he sure hits a lot of home runs.
Willie Calhoun LAD, 2B – Bader isn’t making it easy, but Willie is climbing back in the race to be the best find from my Finding the Next A.J. Reed article that I wrote in the off-season. Calhoun smacked 3 homers this week (including one last night!), bringing his season slash line up to a very respectable .267/.325/.461 with 7 homers as a 21-year-old in Double-A. Welcome to the party, Willie.
Byron Buxton MIN, OF – Buxton is officially destroying Triple-A, slashing .333/.402/.605, with 6 homers, and 4 steals in 28 games. It’s not going to make people forgot about his extreme struggles in the majors these past two years, but it’s a start.
Brendan Rodgers COL, SS – The 22-year-old Buxton might as well be a washed up has been compared to the new cool kid on the block, Rodgers. He smashed a homer in his first game back returning from a hamstring injury, giving him 8 on the year in 35 games at Single-A.
Kyle Lewis Mercer, OF – My #1 ranked prospect in my Top 30 2016 MLB Draft Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings, Lewis jacked 3 more homers this week, giving him 20 on the season in 61 games. He is the premiere power hitting prospect in the draft. #2 ranked prospect Corey Ray kept up the pace as well, tacking on another dinger (15) and 2 steals (39) this week.
Matt Thaiss Virginia, C – Blasted another homer this week, and is now slashing .382/.477/.591 with 10 homers in 57 games in the ACC. I ranked him #23 in my Top 30 Draft Prospects due to his elite contact skills, but there could be even more power in his bat too when he gets out of Virginia’s pitcher’s park. He’ll probably be ranked higher when I update the Top 30 list as we get closer to the draft.
Lucas Giolito WASH, RHP – Had his best start of the season this week (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 6 K), and he hasn’t given up more than 2 ER in all but one of his starts. I said back in week 5 that he will eventually find his rhythm and turn it around, and I still believe that.
Alex Reyes STL, RHP – 5 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BB, 7 K in his second start back from suspension. You can expect him to continue to rack up those K’s and BB’s.
Braden Shipley ARI, RHP – Shipley has a BB/9 of 1.0 and K/9 of 6.9 in 62.1 IP in the PCL this season. I can’t even get upset at those weak strikeout totals, 7 total walks on the season in that pitching environment is just impressive. More so for real life, but still.
Phil Bickford SFG, RHP – Bickford continues to impress, going 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 7 K in his start this week, and a holds a stellar pitching line of 2.72/1.02/50 in 43 IP. He is doing this in Single-A, so it’s probably time to see him against tougher competition.
Alex Bregman HOU, SS – Bregman has been so hot the entire season that I didn’t think it was possible for him to get any hotter, but he has managed to heat up even more this week, slashing .364/.440/.591 with 2 more homers. Houston’s 3rd base situation continues to be a disaster, with Colin Moran doing little to help the cause so far, so Bregman may get his chance sooner rather than later.
Willson Contreras CHC, C – Blasted 3 homers this week, giving him 6 on the season in 42 games. His power was the one area he had to improve on coming into this season, and his ISO is now .50 points higher in Triple-A than it was in Double-A last year.
Jorge Alfaro PHI, C – The talented Alfaro is “finally” (he is 22) putting it together this season, hitting 2 more homers this week, and is now slashing .336/.347/.517 with 4 homers in 27 games at Double-A. He has as much fantasy potential as any catcher in the minors.
Tyler O’Neill SEA, OF – This is just your friendly, periodic reminder that Tyler O’Neill exists, and he is very, very good. The 20-year-old O’Neill is slashing .315/.380/.560, with 9 homers, and 3 steals in 48 games at Double-A, and he should be a relatively sought after fantasy commodity.
Bradley Zimmer CLE, OF – 2 more homers, 2 more steals, and had only 5 K’s in his last 6 games before dropping a golden sombrero last night (4 K’s in a game). We know he has the power and speed, so limiting K’s is last thing he has to improve on.
Austin Meadows PIT, OF – Meadows is starting to shake the rust off after coming back from a fractured orbital bone, slashing .409/.458/.591 in Double-A this week. He is slashing .255/.330/.398 on the season, and the power is the last thing remaining to make him a true elite fantasy prospect.
Joey Gallo TEX, OF – Here is what I wrote about Gallo in last week’s rundown: “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.” Then, right on cue a few hours later, Texas called him up the big leagues and everyone got excited (including me), only to see him rarely play and get sent right back down. Your guess is as good as mine as to what Texas’ plans are with Gallo.
John Lamb CIN, LHP – Lamb was one of my favorite pitching prospect sleepers coming into this year, ranking him 40th in my Top 100 before it was revealed he had back surgery earlier in the off-season. He has simply not displayed the same stuff and velocity so far this year, averaging 89.3 MPH on his fastball after averaging 91.1 MPH last year. When you are already in the low 90’s, you don’t really have 2 MPH to spare. Hopefully he gains velocity the further away he gets from that back surgery, but it’s tough to see him take a step back after making so much progress coming off a long Tommy John Surgery recovery.
Jack Flaherty STL, RHP – Flaherty (#69) is another one of my favorite pitching prospect sleepers who has struggled this year, but he had the best start of his season this week, going 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BB, 9 K. Flaherty credited the outing to the advice he received from former high school teammates Giolito and Max Fried.
Erick Fedde WASH, RHP – Still trying to fully recover from 2014 Tommy John Surgery, Fedde has now spun two shutouts in a row, striking out 11 and walking 1 in 11 IP. His season line still doesn’t look great, but this season is more about staying healthy and building up his IP count anyway. If he can continue to dominate, even better.
Luis Ortiz TEX, RHP – Got promoted to Double-A last week, and went a combined 11 IP, 4 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BB, 7 K in his two starts at the level. It looks like Texas might fast track the 20-year-old Ortiz, and he could make his MLB debut as soon as next season.
Tyler Viza PHI, RHP – Viza put himself on my radar back in week 6, and he had his best start of the season this week, going 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BB, 11 K. He isn’t someone I would be jumping on, but if he gets promoted to Double-A and can keep it up, you will start to see his name popping up in more places.
Ronald Guzman TEX, 1B – The 21-year-old Guzman cranked 2 more dingers this week (in one game), and is now slashing .329/.392/.547, with 7 homers, and a 38/16 K/BB in 46 games at Double-A. He is solidifying himself as one of the top breakout fantasy prospects of 2016.
Dylan Cozens PHI, OF – Cozens keeps on raking, hitting 3 more homers this week, giving him 14 on the season in 49 games at Double-A. I still think he has some holes in his swing and he is doing this is an excellent hitter’s environment, but I can’t deny the power numbers.
Heath Quinn Samford, OF/Ronnie Dawson Ohio St, OF – Quinn and Dawson are two of my favorite sleepers in the upcoming MLB Draft, and they both continued to do damage this week. Quinn knocked 2 more homers, giving him 21 on the season, and Dawson hit another homer (13) and swiped four more bags (20). Dawson (#30) is probably a deeper sleeper than Quinn (#14). We’ll call Dawson a REM sleeper, while Quinn is more of a napper.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)