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 9:
Byron Buxton MIN, OF – I said back in week 5, “If I were a betting man (I am), I would bet a lot of money that Buxton will not hit like a little leaguer when he gets called back up,” and I was right, as he is hitting .425 in the 6 games since being called back up. Now I just have to figure out how to collect on that imaginary bet I made.
Trea Turner WASH, SS – Washington is expected to send Turner back down to Triple-A after a short, successful stint in the majors, and said they wanted Turner’s defense to improve before calling him up permanently. You can expect that “defensive improvement” to come right around the time Washington can push Turner’s first year of arbitration back, which is around mid-July.
2016 MLB Draft Thursday, June 9, 2016 – I never thought I would say this, but I am actually looking forward to the MLB Draft more than the NBA Draft or last April’s NFL Draft. I think it’s fair to say that the MLB Draft is a sleeper when it comes to sports drafts, or maybe a breakout candidate. Either way, tons of fantasy relevant players are about to join the professional ranks, and as usual, some will rise to the occasion and others will fall. I took a stab at trying to find those sleepers before they even hit the minors in my Updated 2016 Top 30 MLB Draft Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings, where I ranked a bunch of players much higher than they are ranked on traditional lists (Craig, Collins, Grier, Quinn, Dawson etc …). Also of note, the Colorado Rockies pick at #4, and they are either going to ruin a pitcher’s career, or turn an above average hitter into a hall of famer. Fun stuff.
Christin Stewart DET, OF – The 34th overall pick of the 2015 draft (see what I mean about finding draft sleepers), Stewart is leaving no doubt that he can absolutely destroy High-A, slashing .255/.395/.561 with 16 homers in 56 games. It will be fun to see what he can do once he gets to Double-A.
Andrew Benintendi BOS, OF – It hasn’t been much fun seeing what Benintendi can do at Double-A, as he is slashing .220/.266/.271 in 64 PA. He also has only one homer on the season. He is due for a hot streak, but Double-A sure does have a way of cutting down on those video game numbers.
Willson Contreras CHC, C – Drilled 3 homers again this week, giving him 9 on the season with a triple-slash of .335/.428/.585 in 47 games at Triple-A. He is already 24 years old and doing this in the PCL, so I wouldn’t be expecting the next coming of Pudge Rodriguez here. I gave him a prime projection of 64/16/81/.293/3 in my off-season top 100, already assuming the power would come around, and I would probably stick with something close to that.
Austin Meadows PIT, OF – Well, that really escalated quickly. Meadows hot steak continued, and is now slashing .296/.359/.536, with 2 homers, and 8 steals in 35 games at Double-A. He hit both homers this week, and if the power keeps coming, there will not be many prospects more exciting than Meadows.
Bobby Bradley CLE, 1B – 2 more homers (13) and 11 more strikeouts (72).
Lucas Giolito WASH, RHP – He’s back. Put up a pitching line of 12 IP, 2 ER, 10 Hits, 5 BB, 14 K in his two starts this week. The Giolito hype train should be reaching peak velocity right about now.
Blake Snell TB, LHP – Snell threw two shutouts this week, going a combined 11 IP, 0 ER, 8 Hits, 5 BB, 14 K. He is walking too many batters and throwing too many pitches, but the drool worthy K numbers are still doing just fine.
Jack Flaherty STL, RHP – Flaherty built off last week’s shutout, throwing another shutout this week, going 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BB, 7 K. Did you actually think a St. Louis prospect was going to disappoint all year? Unheard of.
Tyler Jay MIN, LHP – Jay has been impressive all year, and he turned it up another notch this week, going 8 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BB, 11 K in High-A. I think it’s time we see what the 22-year-old Jay can do at Double-A … whaddaya say? … how ’bout some hay? … I’m done with this, okay?
Jake Junis KC, RHP – Junis was a 29th round pick in the 2011 draft who received a large signing bonus after being a two sport start coming out of high school, dominating in both baseball and basketball. He has slowly but surely refined his skills and improved over the course of his professional career, and is putting together a breakout season Double-A this year, with a pitching line of 2.59/0.96/66 in 62.2 IP. He has plus control and command (2.0 BB/9) and flashes three above average pitches (low 90’s fastball, curveball, changeup). At 6’2’’, 225 pounds, Junis is an excellent athlete with a repeatable delivery, and he is an intriguing deep league sleeper with a likely mid-rotation ceiling.
Hunter Renfroe SD, OF/Manuel Margot SD, OF – Renfroe has the power, jacking 12 homers this year with a .934 OPS, and Margot has the speed, stealing 16 bases with a .305 average. If San Diego could put these two guys together, they would have one of the best power/speed prospects in baseball. Unfortunately, we are at least a decade away from being able to combine humans at our ridiculous current rate of exponential technological growth. Or, if you believe renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil, we will all be cyborgs by then, anyway. 80 grades for everyone!
Victor Robles WASH, OF/Brendan Rodgers COL, SS – Two uber-prospects who have fallen down to earth a bit recently. Their prospect stock is still through the roof, but it is a reminder that they are a long way off.
Austin Byler ARI, 1B – The third guy from my Finding the Next A.J. Reed article is back in action after serving a 50 game suspension, and he is off to a slow start at Single-A, slashing .143/.250/.143 in 6 games. After hitting a bullseye with Harrison Bader and Willie Calhoun (both hit another homer this week), and seeing how I was least confident on Byler to begin with, I can’t help but feel he will be a miss. Hope I’m wrong (or right).
Jacob Nottingham MIL, C – Has come alive this week, slashing .412/.444/.1000 with 3 homers. His season line still sits at a mediocre .256/.313/.399 with 7 homers in 45 games at Double-A, but one extended hot streak would make the 21-year-old Nottingham’s numbers look a lot better. Plus, he’s Josh Hader’s catcher, which just makes me want to like him more for some reason.
Matt Olson OAK, 1B – Olson is starting to bring his numbers back up to respectability, as well, slashing .313/.560/.625 with 2 homers this week. The 6 total homers in 52 games in the PCL is still not that encouraging for a power hitting prospect who will play at the Oakland Coliseum.
Renato Nunez OAK, 3B – Hit 3 more homers this week, and is now slashing .264/.319/.510, with 11 homers in 52 games at Triple-A. He isn’t exactly having the breakout it looked like he was about to have earlier in the year, but the numbers are still more than solid.
Nick Williams PHI, OF – Jacked 3 homers this week, bringing his season slash up to .284/.322/.474, with 7 homers, and 4 steals in 49 games. I wasn’t his biggest fan this off-season, ranking him 59th, and giving him a prime projection of 85/18/78/.276/10. I think I will stick with that.
Josh Ockimey BOS, 1B – You seriously gotta love Ockimey. He killed it again this week, and is slashing .298/.437/.538 with 9 homers in 49 games at High-A. Even he knows his days of being underrated are coming to an end, as he tweeted, “Underrated temporally for the moment” last Friday. Ockimey’s prophetic tweets are just the best.
Roman Quinn PHI, OF – Quinn has been on fire this week, and is now slashing .289/.360/.422, with 3 homers, and 25 steals in 49 games at Double-A. He is one of the better pure speed prospects out there right now.
Anthony Alford TOR, OF – Alford has been absolutely horrendous since returning from a knee injury he suffered on opening day. He is triple-slashing .209/.273/.261, with 1 homer, 4 steals, and a 48/10 K/BB in 30 games at High-A. Last year, he OPS’d .825, with a 49/28 K/BB, and 15 steals in 57 games at the same level. I don’t think you need to be a doctor to think something isn’t right here.
Javier Guerro SD, SS – Unfortunately for Guerro, there is no injury to point to for his terrible offensive performance this season. He is slashing .194/.252/.316, with 5 homers, and 2 steals in 51 games at Single-A. I was very low on him this off-season, ranking him #97 on my top 100, and these numbers surely aren’t going to make me change my mind. He did homer last night, so maybe a hot streak is coming.
Yusniel Diaz LAD, OF – I was really hoping to be able to get excited about Diaz when I wrote about him in week 3, but he hasn’t done much of anything since then, and is now slashing .247/.320/.373, with 3 homers, and 4 steals in 41 games at High-A. That $31 million investment on him is starting to look a little pricey.
David Washington STL, 1B/OF – St. Louis is constantly pulling prospects out of their hat, and there is chance they did it again with David Washington. He is already 25 and he strikes out a lot, but he has destroyed Double-A and Triple-A this year, slashing .278/.374/.602 with 15 homers in 50 games. He is a big dude at 6’5’’, 260-pounds, and he has power to all fields. I would put him in the same category as Peter O’Brien. Neither have a position and both are old for prospects, but the power is enough that they can’t be ignored by the fantasy community. Keep an eye on him.
Nick Delmonico CHW, 1B/3B – The 23-year-old Delmonico is a little young to be considered a reclamation project, but that is what he is after Milwaukee straight cut him in 2015. Chicago swooped in, and they are now reaping the benefits. He crushed at Double-A, slashing .338/.397/.676 with 10 homers in 38 games, and is hitting well since being promoted to Triple-A, slashing .283/.353/.413 with 1 homer in 12 games. He is definitely a very deep league sleeper, but with his solid start in Triple-A, he is worthy of being on the fantasy radar.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)