2017 Fantasy/Dynasty Baseball Minor League Prospects Rundown: Week 5-ish

It’s been a little while since I banged one of these out, so let’s forego the small talk and get right to it. Here is the 2017 Fantasy/Dynasty Baseball Minor League Prospects Rundown: Week 5-ish:

Yoan Moncada CHW, 2B – Apparently, a triple-slash of .342/.414/.538 with 6 homers and 9 steals at Triple-A isn’t enough for the Chicago White Sox to call up one of the best 21-year-old baseball players in the world. Sorry baseball fans, you’ll have pay $50 for MiLB.TV if you want to catch a glimpse of Moncada on video equipment that looks like it was purchased from the Salvation Army.

Derek Fisher HOU, OF – One of my favorite sleepers for two years running, Fisher is going ham at Triple-A, slashing .325/.390/.563 with 7 homers and a 35/13 K/BB in 31 games. Unfortunately, due to Houston’s outfield surplus, the only other place Fisher can go ham is at Boston Market, because that is all he can afford with a Minor League per diem of $25.

Brendan Rodgers COL, SS – Don’t forget about Rodgers, who is slashing .365/.388/.566 with 2 homers and a 12/3 K/BB in 15 games at High-A since returning from a hand injury. With Trevor Story struggling, the odds are increasing Rodgers sticks at SS.

Raimel Tapia COL, OF – Hitting over .400 in 24 games at Triple-A, and isn’t hitting the ball on the ground an exorbitant amount of the time either (44.5%). Without Coors Field, his fantasy value would take a major hit, and with Colorado in the playoff hunt this year, I’m a little worried.

Aaron Judge NYY, OF – Just a friendly reminder that I was the only person on Earth (can’t account for the advanced civilization that is living inside of Earth) to have Judge as the #1 ranked prospect in the Yankees system, as evidenced by my off-season New York Yankees Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings. Would you trade Judge for Gleybor Torres right now?

Cody Bellinger LAD, 1B/OF – Just an unfriendly reminder that I was close to the low man on Bellinger this off-season, but I stand by my analysis of his insane swing when nobody else was really mentioning it. Turns out I should have just been insanely high on it, instead of worrying it was too extreme. Viva la Swing Path Revolucion!

Hunter Renfroe SD, OF – .202/.226/.349 with 5 homers and a 38/4 K/BB in 34 games in the Majors. I know it is the era of the K and everything, but turns out you still have to take a walk every now and then too.

Kyle Tucker HOU, OF – I ranked Tucker in the top 10 in my off-season Top 200 due to his late season power surge, and that has continued into this year with 8 homers in 31 games at High-A. Houston’s High-A affiliate isn’t in Lancaster anymore either, so nobody can just mindlessly dismiss the power numbers.

Andrew Benintendi BOS, OF – On pace for 103/24/108/.328/14 in his rookie season, but I’m sure Texas and Minnesota are just as happy with Dillon Tate (er, 2 months of Carlos Beltran) and Tyler Jay (already being converted back to a reliever), respectively. Please MLB, get better at drafting.

Nick Senzel CIN, 3B – Coming on after a slow start, slashing .339/.397/.516 with 2 homers and 3 steals in his last 16 games. The 20+ homerun power is still a question mark, but the floor is a solid 5-category contributor.

Zack Collins CHW, C – Another top college bat from the 2016 class who is coming on after a slow start, Collins is slashing .324/.415/.500 with 1 homer and a 6/5 K/BB in his last 10 games. More importantly, all reports on his defense have been positive.

Mitch Keller PIT, RHP – Pulled early from his latest start when a bee stung his forearm. I was watching MLB Network last week when host Lauren Shehadi mentioned an ex-boyfriend of hers would sting himself with frozen bees, because bee venom supposedly has some amazing healing qualities. I’m giving it a 50/50 chance that Keller now has a superhuman forearm.

Luke Weaver STL, RHP – Looked strong in his return from lower-back stiffness, going 13 IP, 7 Hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K in two starts. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, odds are good that he sees plenty of time in the Majors this year.

Josh Naylor SD, 1B – After focusing on contact earlier in his career, Naylor is unleashing the beast this season, slashing .306/.358/.531 with 5 homers and a 22/7 K/BB in 23 games as a 19-year-old at High-A. He hit the ball on the ground almost 50% of the time last season, and he has that number down to 38% this year. Considering his raw power, it is safe to say this is the power breakout we were waiting for.

Jorge Mateo NYY, SS/OF – It might be time to officially jump off the Mateo bandwagon, if you haven’t already. He is slashing .220/.270/.315 with 0 homers and a 38/8 K/BB in 32 games at High-A. The elite speed probably makes him a Major Leaguer, but the lack of hard contact could preclude him from a starting job.

Eric Lauer SD, LHP – Don’t sleep on my boy Eric Lauer, who is putting up a 2.22 ERA with a 10.8 K/9 in 28.1 IP in the Cal League. There isn’t one thing that stands out with him, but he couldn’t have found himself in a better situation than with San Diego and the NL West.

Patrick Weigel ATL, RHP – Everyone’s favorite pitching prospect sleeper was promoted to Triple-A this week. The early numbers on SunTrust Park put it firmly as a hitter’s park, so while it is still the NL East, it’s something to keep in mind with Atlanta prospects in general from here on out.

Scott Kingery PHI, 2B – A recent comment I got from Paste says it best, “Halp! I’m kinda diggin’ on Scott Kingery. Looks like he has joined the launch angle revolution this year and is hitting a TON of fly balls (54.5%) and very few ground balls (24.7%), which is a far departure from his previous seasons in the Minors. Also, he’s showing a much better approach at the dish with an 11.8% walk rate while striking out 22.8%. He’s a smallish dude listed at 5’10” 180, but also has speed to burn. I’d love to hear you and Ralph go in on him and perhaps his teammate at AA Reading Andrew Pullin. Let’s find some sleepers! Shhhhhh” … Sorry, Paste. Couldn’t keep it a secret for very long 😉

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

MiLB.TV Prospect Scouting from the Couch: Opening Day

MiLB.TV is like the first two days of March Madness, except it’s on every day, and every game looks like your dad’s home videos from the 80’s. I was flipping around like crazy trying to catch as many high profile at-bats as I could, along with extended stretches from pitchers of interest. Whenever I have something of value to pass along, or something to add to the conversation, I will do a quick write-up the morning after. Here is the first MiLB.TV Prospect Scouting from the Couch: Opening Day:

Max Fried ATL, LHP –  The hype was in overdrive this off-season for Fried, with talk of three 70 grade pitches and ace upside. That might all be well and true, but he certainly didn’t show it in this start before leaving with back tightness in the 2nd inning. He was sitting around 89-92 MPH with his fastball all night, and had very little control or command over it. To be fair, the ump was squeezing him a bit. The curveball is MLB ready right now, breaking off one nasty curve after another that hitters had no shot on. He used his changeup often as well, which is more solid than spectacular right now. If he can stay healthy and have the fastball tick up a few MPH as the year goes on, the hype will surely continue to roll, but there is legitimate control/command and injury risk.

Harrison Bader STL, OF – There was no way I was missing Bader lead off the season for Triple-A Memphis, and he didn’t disappoint by crushing a homer on the 2nd pitch. I don’t know what the pitch was or where he hit it out, because the camera man decided a tight shot of mostly Bader’s ass was the right move to start the game. It reminded me of the brilliant work of Howie Halpern from my childhood, when he forgot he was supposed to be video taping his children, and focused just on his feet. Either way, it was obvious he crushed the pitch with his wrecking ball of a swing, and I found out it was a homer when he started jogging half way to first base.

Josh Hader MIL, LHP – Back to pitching on the dark side of the moon in Colorado Springs, Hader battled through 5 scoreless innings, giving up 1 hit, 5 walks, and striking out 6. His stuff is so unhittable it looked like the very best opposing hitters could do was foul off as many pitches as possible and hope for a walk eventually. He was mostly fastball/slider all night, and is going to need to work on a third pitch if he wants to reach his ace potential. He could probably be a dominant reliever in the Big Leagues right now.

Jacob Faria TB, RHP – Faria will throw that nasty change-up for strikes in any count, but try not to laugh when he flings up some dinky curveball. Even he shook his head after a few particularly lame ducks. Until he figures that out, it will be more of the same of what we saw last night, which was 9 K’s and 2 homers allowed in 4.1 IP.

Cody Bellinger LAD, 1B – There is not a more exciting at-bat in the minors than Bellinger. Every single swing is an epic hack. Combine that with athleticism and blinding bat speed, and it is a thing of beauty when he makes contact. He crushed two doubles last night. I’m still worried that better pitching with a specific game plan could give him trouble, but I’m really rooting against that. Baseball will just be more fun if Bellinger has success and kids start emulating him.

If at any point in the season you are interested in my thoughts on a player, please let me know in the comments section or on Twitter, and I will try to make it a point to catch a few of their games.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

2017 MLB Rookie Watch: Week 1

I just can’t let these guys go quite yet. This season, I’m planning on keeping track of how the 2017 rookies’ skills are translating against MLB pitching. It will also give me an opportunity to gloat a little bit on my hits, and beat myself up on my misses. Here is the 2017 MLB Rookie Watch: Week 1:

Andrew Benintendi BOS, OF – Many of the mainstream prospect writers have been doubting Benintendi’s power all off-season, calling it moderate and topping him out at 20. It is the same reason he fell to #7 in the MLB Draft, and the same reason he wasn’t in anybody’s 2016 top 10 overall prospects except mine. But Benintendi is out to prove the doubters wrong early, absolutely crushing a Gerrit Cole 97 MPH fastball over the right field fence. Just watch how fast the ball jumps off his bat, and you quickly realize judging his power based on his size is silly.

Ronald Torreyes NYY, SS – Benintendi is a barrel-chested beast compared to Torreyes, who stands 5’8’’, 151 pounds, but it didn’t stop him from running into a homer of his own. This picture of Aaron Judge congratulating him at home plate is an absolute classic, and truly a reminder to not let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Of course, in reality, Judge is probably at more of a disadvantage in baseball than Torreyes, as I’m pretty sure baseball is the only sport to adjust the rules based on how tall you are.

Aaron Judge NYY, OF – Speaking of Judge, he has looked very comfortable at the plate in the early going, and has been making good hard contact. There were a few pitches he missed by just a hair that had Paul O’Neill cooing in the booth. I’m expecting good things in the near future.

Dansby Swanson ATL, SS – Calmly laced an opposite field single vs. Noah Syndergaard. It was Jeter-like. There is nothing that truly stands out about Swanson’s offensive profile, but it sure seems like he is going to be very productive. Or maybe he will hit .250 and just look good doing it.

Joey Gallo TEX, 3B – Not technically a rookie, but still kinda rookie-ish, Gallo showed off his no joke 80 grade power by placing a Carlos Carrasco offering into the last rows of the upper deck. If you want to see bat speed, launch angle, and exit velocity, just watch that swing over and over again.

Manuel Margot SD, OF – Showing off his skills early as well, collecting 3 hits in 8 at-bats and swiping his first bag. I question how high the batting average is going to be in his first MLB season, but I have no questions about the plus speed.

Jesus Aguilar MIL, 1B – Took his first start away from Eric Thames and capitalized with a 1 for 2 day and an RBI. He got only two at-bats, and it looks like it could be awhile before getting starts vs. righties, but he is worth a stream every time Milwaukee faces a lefty.

JaCoby Jones DET, OF – Doesn’t get much better than a homer and steal to drive the nail home on that starting centerfield job. I’m still concerned there isn’t enough power or speed to overcome a low average, but he has plenty of upside to prove me wrong.

Mitch Haniger SEA, OF – 4 strikeouts in his first 9 plate attempts. It goes without saying that everything is a miniscule sample size, but thought it was worth mentioning considering his Spring Training stats were a driving force in his increasing draft price as Opening Day approached. I took a shot on Haniger very late in a couple leagues, and surely plan on holding for now.

Jacob Barnes MIL, RHP – One of my favorite relief pitcher sleepers this year, Barnes got off to a good start by pitching one clean inning with a strikeout. He was among the league leaders in whiff rate in his 26.2 IP last year, while also putting up a pitching of 2.70/1.13/26. He has prototypical closer’s stuff with mid 90’s heat and a slider that is pushing 90 MPH. Watch for Barnes to rise in Milwaukee’s pen as the year goes on.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

Thursday Afternoon Monday Morning Minor League Prospect Rundown

In honor of one of my favorite comedians, Bill Burr, I decided to name this new weekly segment the Thursday Afternoon Monday Morning Minor League Prospect Rundown. It will be about half the size as my usual Monday Morning Rundown, but twice the fun (probably not). Here is the Thursday Afternoon Monday Morning Minor League Prospect Rundown:

Aaron Judge NYY, OF – It looked the Yanks were going to revert to their old ways for a second there, but in a moment of clarity, they finally named Judge their starting right fielder. He surely deserved it after slashing .345/.406/.569 in Spring, and more importantly, striking out only 20.3% of the time. I ranked him 23rd overall on my Top 200, and 1st on my New York Yankees Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings.

Rookie Davis CIN, RHP – Like Billy Beane in Moneyball, or Andrew Friedman in The Extra 2%, Brian Cashman struck gold when he brilliantly discovered a new market inefficiency, Domestic Violence. He stole Aroldis Chapman from Cincinnati under the cover of darkness, flipped him for one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball, and then re-signed him to a long-term deal in the off-season. You see kids, having morals just doesn’t pay. All Cincy is left with is a back end starter, but I’m sure their fans will still show up and buy tickets to support their morally superior franchise anyway.

Yandy Diaz CLE, 3B – When I didn’t list Diaz as one of my favorite 2017 Rookie/Prospect Sleepers in yesterday’s post, one of my Twitter followers, Barry Baker, sent me along this message and picture. Not gonna lie, I’m kinda rethinking it now. He also smacked his 3rd Spring homer yesterday, which continued his dominant Spring. Consider this me running alongside the Diaz bangwagon, trying to find an opening to hop on.

Tyler Glasnow PIT, RHP – After putting up a 1.87 ERA in 20 starts last year at Triple-A, Glasnow really doesn’t have much more to prove down there, and it seems like Pittsburgh is leaning towards letting him figure out his inconsistent control on the MLB level. Nothing is official, and Trevor Williams is still in the mix, but if Glasnow locks down the job, I would look to pick him up in re-draft leagues of all sizes. His upside is unmatched, and there will always be safer options waiting to be picked up on the waiver wire. I always shoot for the moon on early season pick-ups.

Luis Severino NYY, RHP – Won the 4th starter job, but I really didn’t see anything much different from him this Spring than I did last year. He is obviously worth a pick up based on raw talent alone, but I’m personally staying away until he proves it, especially in the AL East.

Daniel Norris DET, LHP – Going through a “dead arm” period, and while it is easy to dismiss, things seem to keep popping up with him.

Dylan Unsworth SEA, RHP – Once upon a time, Doug Fister was an upper 80’s throwing, control master Seattle prospect who got zero respect until he came up to the Majors and had nothing but success right from the get go. Unsworth is following in that path. He has a career MiLB walk rate of 1.2 BB/9, and with a 7.7 K/9, it’s not like he can’t miss bats either. Unsworth is an excellent deep league sleeper.

Jacob May CHW, OF/JaCoby Jones DET, INF/OF – Allow me to introduce your by default centerfielders for the rebuilding Chicago White Sox and transitioning Detroit Tigers. May has already been named the starter and Jones is probably not far behind. At the least, Jones will fill in while JD Martinez is on the DL. I put my full trust in both of these guys to absolutely tank your batting average.

Albert Almora Jr. CHC, OF – Heavily overshadowed by just about every single one of Chicago’s young stars, both Majors and Minors, Almora is looking to change that this year, and has started by completely destroying Spring Training pitching. He finished the Spring by hitting .339 with 4 homers and 2 steals in 62 at-bats, and should get the majority of playing time in centerfield.

Steven Matz NYM, LHP – Shut down for the next 3 weeks and was given a platelet plasma rich injection. The MRI looked great though. And yes, every time someone from my Post-Tommy John Surgery Death Zone so much as gets an itch on their elbow, I will be there to tell you about it 😉

Washington Closer Update: Much like how most things run in Washington, days of gridlock and consternation has lead to a worst of all worlds compromise. Neither the progressives (Koda Glover), nor conservatives (Shawn Kelley) got their way, and now we are all left holding the bag with Blake Treinen.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

2017 Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: Spring Training, Take Two

Spring Training stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, but if a player transformed his body, or improved his swing, or impressed coaches with a renewed mindset and work ethic, it could be a sign of legitimate improvement. Here is the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: Spring Training, Take Two:

Andrew Benintendi BOS, OF – If you are concerned about Benintendi’s .179 batting average and 36% K% in his 33 MLB at-bats against lefties, maybe this rocket shot he crushed last night that cleared the fence in .2 seconds will help ease those fears. This guy is going to absolutely wear out Pesky Pole. Actually, the Red Sox are already preparing for the assault, reinforcing Pesky Pole with 40 feet of new steel, among other repairs.

Steven Matz NYM, LHP – Well, that was quick. Shortly after listing Matz 1st on my Post-Tommy John Surgery Death Zone Watch List, he was scratched from his next scheduled start due to “irritation” in his left elbow. He won’t have an MRI, but don’t worry, the trusty Mets PR department and front office assures that there is nothing structurally wrong. “There is nothing structurally wrong” sounds like the new “dreaded vote of confidence” mangers get right before being fired.

A.J. Reed HOU, 1B – The work Reed put in this off-season on conditioning and bat speed has clearly paid off, as not only has he raked in Spring, but Houston coaches have been raving about him. This is how you like to see young players respond to adversity, because it won’t be the last time they have to overcome obstacles, whether it be due to injury or the constant game of adjustments that is MLB hitting.

Kyle Lewis SEA, OF – I’m no doctor, but this video certainly looks like an encouraging sign that Lewis’ knee rehab is going well. Feel free to draft him with increasing confidence in prospect and Dynasty drafts.

Corey Ray MIL, OF – Ray also returned to game action this week after tearing his meniscus in October. While we are on the topic of injured 2016 college bats …

Nick Senzel CIN, 3B – Doubled in his first game back after taking a pitch to his wrist in live batting practice a couple weeks ago. There is nothing worse than a wrist injury for a hitter, so hopefully this will be the last we hear of it.

Jesus Aguilar MIL, 1B – Spring Training stats don’t matter, unless you are a 26-year-old bad bodied first baseman who basically has to hit like Babe Ruth in order for somebody to give you a shot. And that is exactly what Aguilar is doing this Spring, hitting .462 with 5 homers in 52 at-bats. He has been completely outplaying the Korean sensation, Eric Thames, and is making Milwaukee rethink their opening day roster. If you are looking for an Adam Duvall like breakout in the next couple years, keep your eye on Aguilar.

Jose Berrios MIN, RHP – Minnesota claims Berrios won’t make the MLB team because the WBC prevented him from being properly stretched out, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might also have something to do with his 8.02 ERA in 14 starts last year. I’ve jumped so far off the Berrios bandwagon that I actually had a Coors pitcher (Gray) and an AL East pitcher (Bundy) ranked ahead of him when I Re-Ranked the Graduates from My 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings back in early January (I would probably put Turner #1 now).

Raul Mondesi Jr. KC, SS/2B – It’s odd that people seem to completely ignore the obvious step forward Mondesi took last year in the upper levels of the minors, OPS’ing .779 at Double-A and .863 at Triple-A in 172 combined at-bats, while they overly focus on the inevitable struggles he had in the Majors. He hit well in Winter Ball, has been raking in Spring, and even if he doesn’t break camp with the team, I wouldn’t expect him to be held down for long. This is a potential elite speed/power combo who is not being valued like that in Dynasty drafts.

Franklin Barreto OAK, SS/2B – Billy Beane can’t wait until he can finally show something from that awful Josh Donaldson trade, and with Jed Lowrie and Chad Pinder the only thing in the way of that, you can bet Barreto will be called up sooner rather than later.

Cody Reed CIN, LHP/Amir Garrett CIN, LHP – I think I could have made a run at a rotation spot in Cincinnati’s dumpster fire of a starting rotation. Their ballpark is a launching pad and while I think both of these guys can be solid mid-rotation starters long term, they look like nothing but landmines for this season.

Alen Hanson PIT, UTIL – MLB’s cockamamie team control rules will finally help the player and not the team, as Hanson is out of options, and if he doesn’t make the big league club, there would be no shortage of teams who would jump at the chance to claim him. Plus, the United States doesn’t look all too keen about letting Jung-ho Kang back into the country, so there could be more playing time available than originally thought.

Jose Quintana HOU, LHP – Seriously Houston, just pull the trigger already. You have a million talented outfielders who deserve a shot and a highly volatile starting rotation.

Derek Fisher HOU, OF – Speaking of Houston outfielders, Fisher hit well this Spring, but has really impressed on the base paths, jacking 10 bases in 34 at-bats. It can be hard to know how much to trust minor league steal numbers, but it sure does seem like this man loves to run.

Austin Meadows PIT, OF – Meadows crushed a ball out of the ballpark against a lefty on Saturday, which continued his torrid Spring. I don’t care that he doesn’t have a spot yet (Polanco did just get scratched with shoulder soreness), I would be going out of my way to grab him in any Dynasty drafts where he is still available.

Koda Glover WASH, RHP – Dusty Baker knows who the closer is, but nanny nanny poo poo, he’s not telling.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

2017 Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: Spring Training

I just couldn’t help myself. After a long off-season with no baseball, the first week of Spring Training games has got me amped up for the 2017 season. Lots of legitimately exciting stuff happened already too. Here is the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: Spring Training:

Aaron Judge NYY, OF – It was the homerun heard round the Twittersphere. Judge smashed a 93 MPH fastball that didn’t so much land as it did get stopped by the tippy top of the outfield scoreboard. I love a fundamentally sound 4-3 putout as much as the next guy (I was an expert at them), but bombs like this are what make you hit rewind on your DVR like 25 times.

Tyler Glasnow PIT, RHP – Glasnow came out throwing fire with his newly refined delivery, striking out 6 batters in 2 IP. The fastball clocked as high as 98 MPH, and he didn’t walk a single batter. If there is a real competition for Pittsburgh’s 5th starter spot, Glasnow jumped out to the early lead.

Harrison Bader STL, OF – Bader’s quick and powerful swing is still being underrated on mainstream prospect lists, and it is scorched bullet shots like this that makes you scratch your head as to why he doesn’t get more love. I guess he’ll have to settle for being another in a long line of Cardinals prospects who gets the “came out of nowhere/Cardinals voodoo” tag, even though he has been raking since freshman year in the SEC.

Cody Bellinger LAD, 1B – On last week’s Razzball Prospect Podcast: The Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Show, I wondered if Bellinger’s extreme uppercut swing is the future of baseball with launch angle and swing path being all the rage these days. This absolute moon shot only reinforced that thought. Of course, that same extreme uppercut is why I was a bit conservative on him in my Top 200, ranking him 26th overall.

Matt Chapman OAK, 3B – If those pull side homers didn’t do it for you, how about an opposite field dinger from one of the best power hitting prospects in the minors. There isn’t a clear path to playing time for Chapman at the moment, but there is no reason for Oakland to not trade Trevor Plouffe at the deadline if he has any value at all.

Jacob Faria TB, RHP – One of my favorite pitching prospect sleepers for two years running, Faria struck out 3 batters in 2 IP. Unless Tampa Bay’s rotation stays unusually healthy, Faria is almost sure to have his number called at some point this season.

Rhys Hoskins PHI, 1B – Non-Reading aided homer alert! Non-Reading aided homer alert!

Brad Zimmer CLE, OF – Drove in 5 runs in his Spring debut. Lined a single to center and showed off his raw power with an opposite field homer that he didn’t even get the sweet part of the bat on. With Cleveland’s shaky outfield situation, Zimmer could force his way into the lineup sooner rather than later.

Billy McKinney NYY, OF – Here’s a quick reminder of why McKinney was a former 1st round pick. He’ll have to keep showing off that power to regain his lost prospect shine.

Rowdy Tellez TOR, 1B – This is the play-by-play of Tellez’ 2nd at-bat on Sunday: late on a 1st pitch fastball, looked completely lost on a 12-6 curve, and finally whiffed bad on a breaking ball in the dirt. Drawing conclusions from one at-bat sample sizes in Spring Training is fun.

Carson Fulmer CHW, RHP –  Pitched two scoreless innings, striking out Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, and Franklin Gutierrez. Also unveiled a new, toned down delivery that will hopefully allow him to remain a starter.

Mark Appel PHI, RHP – I’m old enough to remember a time when Mark Appel vs. Kris Bryant was an actual debate. Feels like an eternity ago. He’ll get a fresh start in Philadelphia this year, and his stuff looked legit in his two inning, 3 K performance on Saturday. A wild pitch and hanging breaking ball were his only blemishes on the day.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

2017 Off-Season Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: The Traded Prospects

With the free agent landscape almost barren this off-season, the trade market has dominated the hot stove. Let’s run down the impact these trades had in the fantasy baseball prospect world. Here is the 2017 Off-Season Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rundown: The Traded Prospects:

Yoan Moncada 2B/3B/OF, CHW – Dave Dombrowski whipped out the godfather offer to land the most valuable player available this off-season, Chris Sale. His mission to turn an organization with Dynasty level long-term talent into one with a 3-year compete window is nearly complete. You know Rafael Devers and Jason Groome are going to be burning a hole in his pocket at the trade deadline. As for Moncada, I always think it is much easier for a prospect to break in with a rebuilding team than it is with a contender. He no longer has to be pigeonholed in at third base, and can stick at second, or maybe even be transitioned to centerfield. He is more likely to get significant big league at-bats next season with Chicago, and will get a much longer leash than he would have gotten in Boston. He should also get the constant green light on the base paths. At worst, this has no impact on Moncada’s fantasy value, and I think it is actually a slight positive.

Michael Kopech RHP, CHW – Don’t be shocked if Kopech is the top pitching prospect in the game by mid-season. His fastball velocity has reached mythological status at this point, with there being more consensus on the existence of Big Foot than if he really did uncork a 105 MPH fastball earlier this year. Regardless, he seriously impressed in the Arizona Fall League, and put on a show during the nationally televised Fall League All-Star game, pitching 2 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts. If he can maintain the improved control and command he displayed in the AFL next season, there won’t be many pitching prospects I would rather own than Kopech. Unfortunately, with Chicago’s almost willful disregard for defense, especially catcher defense, he was likely better off in Boston.

Mauricio Dubon INF, MIL – Leave it to Milwaukee’s new management to target an underrated guy like the 22-year-old Dubon. He added doubles power to his already plus hit tool and speed at Double-A this season. He is still a slight 6’0’’, 160 pounds, so there is projection for some more homerun power down the line too. With Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar currently locked in at SS and 2B, respectively, Dubon’s path isn’t much clearer in Milwaukee than it was in Boston, although there could be some wiggle room at 3B or OF to carve out a niche as an almost everyday utility player if he hits.

Luis Alexander Basabe OF, CHW – The Sale trade is a boon for the 20-year-old Basabe’s fantasy value. He wasn’t cracking the Benintendi/Bradley/Betts outfield triumvirate in Boston any time soon, and Chicago’s outfield talent is very weak up and down the organization. Even if he never hits above .250, the speed/power combo could provide solid value in fantasy, and Chicago might be inclined to stick with him through the slumps due to the raw talent and lack of good alternatives.

Alex Jackson OF, ATL – The relatively weak return that Seattle got for Jackson should tell you everything you need to know about his current fantasy value. It’s a similar return that the Yankees got for Justin Wilson last year. If you already have him on your team, he is a hold, and the only way I would buy low on him is if my fantasy team is in the exact same position as the Atlanta Braves.

Max Povse RHP, SEA/ Rob Whalen RHP, SEA – These guys have value in only the deepest of leagues. Povse profiles as an innings eating back-end starter who will hurt your ratios and not help all that much in strikeouts. Whalen profiles as something similar, or could end up in middle relief.

Albert Abreu RHP, NYY/Jorge Guzman RHP, NYY – Teams obviously weren’t beating down Cashman’s door to acquire Brian McCann, so he had to settle for two high risk, high reward lower minors arms. Abreu is further along than Guzman, and has a better chance to stick as a starter. Neither of their fantasy values change at all with this trade.

Josh Pennington RHP, MIL/Victor Diaz RHP, CHW – Two hard throwing righties, one already in the bullpen (Diaz), and the other likely destined for the bullpen (Pennington). As a New York Jets fan, it is kinda nice to use “hard throwing” and “Pennington” in the same sentence for once.

John Gant STL, RHP – Acquired in the Jaime Garcia trade along with Chris Ellis and Luke Dykstra. Nothing much to see here for fantasy prospect wise. Most interesting part of the trade is that Gant is now infamous for causing a minor rebellion when former Fangraphs prospect writer, Dan Farnsworth, ranked him the 2nd best prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization last off-season.

Adam Eaton trade update:

Lucas Giolito RHP, CHW – The question marks were starting to build even before this trade (fastball took a step back, control and command not improving), and now you can tack on a DH, a hitter’s ballpark, and a team that doesn’t quite believe in defense, catcher defense in particular. I ranked Giolito 5th in my End of Season Top 35, but he probably drops into the top 10 range now.

Reynaldo Lopez RHP, CHW – Lopez has yet to crack any of my Top 100 lists because I believe the bullpen risk is very high, plus, his projection as a starter is more of the mid-rotation variety. He can throw 100 MPH and his strikeouts spiked to 10.4 per 9 IP in the minors this year, so his strikeout upside is undeniable, but he also gave up 13 homers in those 109.1 MiLB IP, and will now be pitching in a homer happy home ballpark. On the bright side, Washington was stacked with pitching, so Chicago probably gives him a better opportunity to stick as a starter.

Dane Dunning RHP, CHW – A 3/4 type starter without huge strikeout upside is far more appealing in a pitcher friendly ballpark in the NL like Washington. On second thought, every pitcher is far more appealing in a pitcher friendly ballpark in the NL like Washington. Which is why I always build my fantasy teams around NL pitching, until they get traded to shitty situations in the AL. Sorry guys if you own these pitchers. I feel your pain.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

2016 Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: Extra Innings

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: Extra Innings:

Remember when I said I was going to shift over to fantasy football? Fuck it, I’m sticking with fantasy baseball prospects. I’m sure I will sprinkle in some football stuff here and there, but I have too much fun writing about prospects to stop.

Yoan Moncada BOS, 3B – Is Byron Buxton’ing himself in his MLB debut, going 4 for 18 with 11 K’s. Like Buxton, just have to stay patient.

Alex Bregman HOU, 3B/SS/OF – Has been red hot for about a month now as I’m sure you know, but just wanted to note it hasn’t been on the back of his elite minor league contact skills, as he is carrying a 23% MLB K rate. That is why I value bat speed, exit velocity, and power at least equal to plate approach and contact skills in the minors. Everybody is striking out in the majors, so when you do make contact, better make it count.

A.J. Reed HOU, 1B/Aaron Judge NYY, OF – On the flip side of the coin, if you are already striking out a lot in the minors, it could get even worse in the majors. A 22.6% K rate for Reed has turned into a 33.1% rate in the majors (.175 avg) and a 24% K rate for Judge has turned into a 43.8% rate in the majors (.177 avg). I’m still on board with both players, but the risk is obvious.

Tyler O’Neill SEA, OF – Has turned it up another notch in the playoffs, launching 3 homers in 4 games. He also carried Team Canada in the Pan-Am games last year, as I noted in the off-season sleeper post I wrote for him. I’m one of those crazy humans who believes that “clutch” is a real thing, and it’s becoming clear that O’Neill is clutch. He is starting to have all the makings of a big time Major Leaguer.

Victor Robles WASH, OF – Carried over his hot hitting from the end of the season into the playoffs, going 6 for 14 in 3 games. His season line at High-A doesn’t stand out, but that’s just because he ran out of time.

Jose Berrios MIN, RHP – It’s been only 44.2 IP, but Berrios’ MLB debut has been an absolute disaster. He couldn’t get out of the 3rd inning in his start this week, going 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BB, 1 K. This certainly doesn’t doom his MLB career, but I am starting to question how high his upside is.

Luke Weaver STL, RHP – I’ve been preaching that changeups are underrated in the prospect world, and Weaver is showing why they deserve more respect, spinning 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BB, 8 K this week. He now has a 39/8 K/BB in 31 MLB IP.

Kyle Tucker HOU, OF/Rafael Devers BOS, 3B – Two of the most promising 19-year-olds in baseball each have a dinger in 3 post-season games. The more the game power shows up, the better.

Franklin Barreto OAK, 2B/SS – The 20-year-old Barreto is dominating the Triple-A playoffs, slashing .421/.500/.947. What started off looking like a solid but unspectacular year has ended up being a major step forward.

Renato Nunez OAK, 3B/1B/OF – Drilled 3 homers in 5 post-season games. He put up only a .690 OPS in Triple-A this year, but I like him a lot as a buy low/bounce back candidate for next season.

Kevin Gadea SEA, RHP – 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 11 K in his playoff start this week. On the season, he has a pitching line of 68.2 IP, 18 ER, 56 Hits, 14 BB, 95 K. Who is this guy? Baseball America had him as an international sleeper back in 2013 after signing with Seattle for $42,000. He is 6’5’’, 190 pounds with a low 90’s fastball and a legitimate curveball and changeup. I don’t know much about him, but anybody his size putting up those kind of numbers with 3 legitimate pitches should be on our radar. Hat tip to bp42810 in the comments section at Minorleagueball.com for bringing him to my attention.

Jason Martin HOU, OF – In the same comments section, check out what Revilo wrote about 2013 8th round pick Jason Martin. At 5’11’’, 190 pounds he will almost surely remain underrated throughout his entire minor league career, but what he has done this year deserves to put him on the map. He slashed .270/.357/.533, with 23 homers, 20 steals, and 108/55 K/BB in the Cal League. He has a short, quick lefty swing that is geared more towards line drives than homers, but as evidenced by his power surge this year, there is definitely plenty of pop in his bat too. And oh yea, he has had two multi-homer games in the playoffs already.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

2016 Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown: Week 22

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 22:

Tom Murphy COL, C – Absolutely demolished a 482-foot homer on Sunday night, with an exit velocity of 108.8 MPH. It’s almost as exciting as watching Alec Baldwin and Jason Schwartzman canoodle with each other in the commercial before the clip. Hopefully you have this guy on your team already, because I’ve been hyping him all year (in the preseason, in my Rundown’s, and on the podcast). He is now 4 for 7 in his first 3 games of action, and I have every expectation of him joining the ranks of the fantasy catcher elite next season, which is not a very hard group to crack.

Byron Buxton MIN, OF – Minnesota scrapped trying to turn Buxton into a top of the order slap hitter, and let him just grip it and rip it. It has resulted in him absolutely exploding this week, going 10 for 19 with 3 dingers. For fantasy owners who have been waiting on Buxton for 3+ years, you can let out a big sigh now.

Lucas Giolito WASH, RHP – Fired a gem in his final start, going 8 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BB, 5 K. He is up to only 115.1 IP, so Washington is almost sure to use him down the stretch in some capacity.

Tyler Glasnow PIT, RHP – Finished up the Minor League regular season in fitting fashion, striking out 8 and walking 4 in 5.2 IP.

Derek Fisher HOU, OF – Got hot just in time to make his Triple-A numbers look impressive, slashing .290/.347/.505 with 5 homers. On the downside, he is still striking out too much, but on the upside, he is striking out enough to keep him a legitimate sleeper. Still not too late to buy low-ish on Fisher.

Raimel Tapia COL, OF – I seriously hope Tapia is already owned in every Dynasty League, but now is probably the time to pick him up in some keeper leagues too. Major League pitching hasn’t slowed him down at all so far (.467 avg) and if Colorado clears a starting spot for him this off-season, he can do damage starting from Day 1 next season.

Ian Happ CHC, 2B – Broke into Double-A with a bang, and went out with a bang, knocking 2 homers in one game this week. It was everything in between that was the problem, but he still finished with a respectable .262/.318/.415 slash-line with 8 homers and 6 steals in 65 games at the level.

Franklin Barreto OAK, 2B/SS – Quietly put together a very strong season, and put the cherry on top in Triple-A this week, slashing .353/.389/.647 with 1 homer in 4 games. He is only 20 years old, but everything is pointing to Oakland giving him a shot at some point next season. They are probably feeling the heat to show something from that horrendous Josh Donaldson trade.

Justus Sheffield NYY, LHP – The 20-year-old Sheffield was promoted to Double-A for his final start and rung up 9 batters in 4 IP. He has easily outshined the centerpiece of that Andrew Miller deal, Clint Frazier, who has slashed .228/.278/.396 with a 30/7 K/BB in 25 games since the trade.

Jack Flaherty STL, RHP – It’s been an up and down season for Flaherty, but he finished up strong with a pitching line of 26 IP, 4 ER, 16 Hits, 6 BB, 26 K in his final 4 starts. It wasn’t quite the breakout season I was hoping for when I ranked him 69th overall in the off-season, but it was enough to maintain his prospect status.

Sean Newcomb ATL, LHP – Like Flaherty, had a strong finish to an up and down season, going 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hit, 1 BB, 8 K this week. The stuff and potential are still the same, but he didn’t exactly take a step forward this year.

Cody Bellinger LAD, 1B – Drilled 3 homers in his brief 3 game cameo in Triple-A to drill home the point that he is the real deal. I thought Edwin Rios could be a hindrance to Bellinger’s playing time down the line, but I highly doubt that will be the case now.

Christin Stewart DET, OF – Had his first hot streak at Double-A, homering in 3 straight early in the week and homering again last night. There isn’t enough time for him to make his Double-A numbers look all shiny, but it might be a blessing in disguise for those in leagues where he is available in off-season drafts.

Austin Riley ATL, 3B – 3 homers this week to cap off his over month long hot streak. In fact, since an ice cold April and May, he has performed exactly like many hoped he would in his first year of full season ball.

Matt Chapman OAK, 3B – 5 homers this week, including 3 in one game. That gives him 36 homers on the year with a 173/68 K/BB in 135 games.

Erick Fedde WASH, RHP – 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 12 K. Considering he is coming off Tommy John surgery and reaching career highs in IP, this was a very encouraging final start to the season.

Sandy Alcantara STL, RHP – The hard throwing righty wrapped up the season with a couple of starts that makes it easy to dream on him for next year, going 13.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BB, 16 K.

Max Schrock OAK, 2B – I don’t think anyone was surprised to learn Billy Beane and the A’s were Max Schrock fans. They didn’t wait long to promote him to Double-A either, where he hit .391 with no K’s in 6 games.

Will Craig PIT, 3B – Hitting only 2 homers in 63 games is disappointing, but I can’t help but be impressed by the 37/41 K/BB and .412 OBP. He certainly has more power than he has shown, but for the most part, I think we are seeing the type of hitter he will become, high avg/obp with good but not great power.

Jorge Alfaro PHI, C  – Has gotten a bit lost in the Minor League catcher hype with Gary Sanchez and Willson Contreras starting their MLB career with a bang, Francisco Mejia going on an epic hit streak, and Tom Murphy getting all the sleeper hype, but Alfaro deserves to be mentioned in the same breath (paragraph) as all these guys. He homered in back-to-back games this week, and considering Philly already called him up for a couple games not that long ago, it might not be long before he is making his mark in the majors as well.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

Tom Murphy Rundown (everyone else coming tomorrow)

Due to the Holiday weekend, the Fantasy Baseball Minor League Prospect Rundown will be running tomorrow. Which works out perfectly, because the final day of the Minor League regular season is today. But because I couldn’t help myself, I’m gonna do one:

Tom Murphy COL, C – Absolutely demolished a 482-foot homer last night, with an exit velocity of 108.8 MPH. It’s almost as exciting as watching Alec Baldwin and Jason Schwartzman canoodle with each other in the commercial before the clip. Hopefully you have this guy on your team already, because I’ve been hyping him all year (in the preseason, in my Rundown’s, and on the podcast). He is now 4 for 7 in his first 3 games of action, and I have every expectation of him joining the ranks of the fantasy catcher elite next season, which is not a very hard group to crack.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)