Dynasty Dugout: Top Hitting Prospects Update
Wait, we already had one Dynasty Dugout article this week. Well, guess what? It’s the good ol’ two-for-one special this week, folks. That’s right, two Dynasty Dugout articles for the price of one. Well, for the price of none since these are free articles. Who doesn’t love more free stuff? After going over some top pitching prospects the other day, we switch gears and dive into some top hitting prospects and their early-season performances.
Rankings are from my pre-season top-100.
Hitting Prospects From My Top-20
#1 Ronald Acuña (OF – ATL)
2018 Stats (AAA): .232/.321/.304/.625, 1 HR, 4 SB (69 AB)
2018 Stats (MLB): .417/.481/.750/1.231, 1 HR, 1 SB, 5 2B (24 AB)
We all know the Acuña spiel by now. The Braves made the unpopular move by sending him to Triple-A to start the season so the could gain another year of control down the road. He then struggled at first before turning it on over the last week-plus before his promotion last week. As you can see above, Acuña wasn’t dominating by any means, but he showed enough progress after his frigid start to warrant the call-up.
If these first 24 at-bats are any indication, the timing of the promotion was perfect. Acuna has six extra-base hits in his first six games and has only made soft contact 15.8% of the time. Check out the mammoth shot below off Homer Bailey for his first career dinger. Coincidence that Acuña’s first home run is off a guy with the first name Homer? I think not. He obviously won’t hit above .400 all season, but Acuña has top-50 fantasy upside the rest of the way. If you have him, don’t let him go unless it’s for a king’s ransom.
For more Acuña goodness, check out my live scouting report on him from 4/22 in Pawtucket.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 26, 2018
#2 Eloy Jimenez (OF – CHW)
2018 Stats (AA): .234/.269/.532/.801, 4 HR, 2 2B (47 AB)
If hitting prospects were wrestlers, Jimenez would be the Big Show. Why? SO. MUCH. POWER. Jimenez got a late start to the season due to a strained pectoral muscle, but he hasn’t taken very long to put that 70-grade power of his on display this season, cranking four homers in his first 47 at-bats. Don’t worry about the low average. Jimenez has shown solid contact abilities at every level and is a career .299 hitter in the minors. A mid-summer promotion to Triple-A is likely with a September cup of coffee not out of the question.
#3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B – TOR)
2018 Stats (AA): .388/.455/.600/1.055, 2 HR, 9 2B, 26 RBI (80 AB)
You’re bound to be impressed by Guerrero, no matter what statistic you look at. The second-generation phenom is terrorizing Eastern League pitching so far and is truly worth the price of admission. I live two hours away from Vlad’s home ballpark in Manchester, New Hampshire and have already made the drive twice to see him and Bo Bichette play. It’s totally worth it. Through his first 100 plate appearances, Guerrero even has more extra-base hits (12) than strikeouts (10). That’s just downright insanity. Toronto has to be feeling the pressure to promote him to Triple-A Buffalo, which is bound to happen within the next month or two.
Want a little more on Vlad? Sure you do. Check out my live scouting report on him (and Bo Bichette) from a couple weeks ago.
#4 Victor Robles (OF – WAS)
2018 Stats (AAA): .385/.467/.385/.851, 0 HR, 2 SB (13 AB)
Well, contrary to what it looked like on video, Robles’ arm didn’t snap off. Still, a hyperextended elbow will keep him out of action for the next month or two. Don’t expect him back up with Washington until after the all-star break.
#5 Luis Robert (OF – CHW)
2018 Stats (TBD): HAS NOT PLAYED YET
Not much to see here. Robert has yet to play this season due to a sprained ligament in his left thumb. Upon his return later this month, Robert should begin at Single-A and could move quickly through the White Sox farm system. The upside here is massive.
#7 Nick Senzel (3B – CIN)
2018 Stats (AAA): .266/.352/.456/.807, 3 HR, 3 SB (79 AB)
Damn it, Nick. Start tearing the cover off the ball so Cincinnati will promote you! Luckily, he’s started hitting better of late and avoided serious injury when he jammed his shoulder a few days back. Senzel remains one of the most polished hitting prospects in the minors and should be helping out in Cincy before too long.
#8 Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD)
2018 Stats (AA): .198/.261/.396/.657, 4 HR, 6 2B, (101 AB)
It’s been a rough start to the season for Tatis, to say the least. After a strong showing in Spring Training (.281, 1 HR, 3 SB, 32 AB), Tatis has developed a severe case of the whiffs. Haven’t heard of it? It’s a terrible disease that delays promotions for young hitting prospects. Side effects include a low batting average and frequent trips back to the dugout without reaching base. Tatis’ strikeout rate has jumped from 24.5% in 2017 to 31.5% this season and was as high as 36.0% last week.
#10 Kyle Tucker (OF – HOU)
2018 Stats (AAA): .278/.355/.433/.788, 2 HR, 2 SB, 9 2B (97 AB)
After 46 combined homers and steals last season, paired with a dominant spring showing, Tucker’s .788 OPS and 12/12 pace might seem a tad underwhelming. However, he’s made some minor gains, including raising his walk rate to 10.7%. The power and speed will come, don’t you worry. If Evan Gattis continues to hit around the Mendoza line, he won’t be able to hold back Tucker for much longer.
#11 Royce Lewis (SS – MIN)
2018 Stats (A): .339/.379/.403/.782, 1 HR, 1 2B, 5 SB (62 AB)
Lewis has been making a ton of contact so far, as evident by his .339 average, but not a lot of that contact has been hard in the air. He doesn’t project as a big power threat anyway, so this isn’t much of a surprise. His plus-hit tool and speed are his calling cards and those have been on full display in Single-A so far. There won’t be any 2018 impact here, but Lewis could find his way to Double-A by season’s end if he continues to hit well.
#13 Bo Bichette (SS – TOR)
2018 Stats (AA): .290/.359/.441/.800, 6 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 8 SB, (93 AB)
This kid can flat out rake. Basically, every time he makes contact (which is very often), it’s hard contact. Bichette’s power potential isn’t overly high, but there aren’t many better hit tools currently in the minor leagues, and he’s showing off some good wheels this season. Keep an eye on him for a potential cup of coffee in September.
#14 Brendan Rodgers (2B – COL)
2018 Stats (AA): .284/.323/.477/.800, 4 HR, 5 2B, 4 SB (88 AB)
Everything here is pretty much on par with expectations. The average has taken an expected dip from 2017, but Rodgers has offset that by swiping four bags over the first month of the season. His timeline is similar to Bichette’s with a late-season debut being possible. However, Rodgers isn’t likely to make a big impact until next season.
#15 Gleyber Torres (2B – NYY)
2018 Stats (AAA): .347/.393/.510/.903, 1 HR, 3 2B, 1 SB (49 AB)
2018 Stats (MLB): .294/.351/.382/.734, 0 HR, 3 2B, 1 SB (34 AB)
My pre-season Torres ranking was amongst the lowest in the industry, and I still fully stand behind it. In fact, if he were projected to still have prospect status in July, I’d likely be moving him down in my rankings update. Not far, but some. The hit tool is legit and the power should develop, but to not much more than a 20-25-HR hitter. I like him as a fantasy asset, I really do, but not as a future stud is all. If you need some middle infield help, give him a look.
#17 Lewis Brinson (OF – MIA)
2018 Stats (MLB): .163/.226/.276/.502, 3 HR, 1 SB (98 AB)
OK, Lewis, time to figure it out. Brinson has been a puzzling player over the last 10-12 months. He displayed power, speed, and on-base abilities in the minors, but when he gets to the Majors, he can’t get anything going. I’m not sure he could eclipse the Mendoza line in tee ball at this point. Until he shows some promise, he’s best left on the waiver wire.
#19 Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX)
2018 Stats (AAA): .240/.315/.370/.685, 3 HR, 4 2B (100 AB)
It hasn’t been the best start for Mr. Calhoun in Triple-A. Some will point to a low BABIP, but Calhoun hasn’t been driving the ball as much as he has in the past. It’s likely just a cold start, but cold starts are what delay promotions. Don’t expect Calhoun with the Rangers anytime soon unless he starts showing some progress at the plate.
More Hitting Prospects Worth Mentioning
#25 Ryan McMahon (1B – COL)
2018 Stats (MLB): .180/.317/.200/.517, 0 HR, 0 SB (50 AB)
Let him play! Let him play! Those are McMahon’s fantasy owners chanting outside Coors Field. McMahon has been up with the Rockies for the entire season but has compiled only 50 at-bats thus far. Granted, he hasn’t done jack squat with those at-bats, but it remains puzzling why they don’t let him get regular playing time at Triple-A if they’re not going to give it to him at the Major League level. If you’ve been holding onto McMahon in re-draft leagues, the time has come to give him the boot. In dynasty, he’s a hold.
#28 Juan Soto (OF – WAS)
2018 Stats (A/A+): .348/.459/.742/.1.211, 6 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 2 SB (89 AB)
Ready for a spoiler alert? If Soto continues pummeling minor league pitching like he has so far, he’ll leapfrog Victor Robles in my mid-season rankings update. I don’t need to ramble here, as the stats above speak for themselves. Oh yeah, he has more walks (19) than strikeouts (15), too.
— NatsGM (@NatsGMdotcom) April 26, 2018
#29 Scott Kingery (2B/3B – PHI)
2018 Stats (MLB): .217/.277/.370/.647, 8 2B, 2 HR, 3 SB (92 AB)
I urge all you Scott Kingery owners out there to remain patient. Yes, he’s struggling right now. I get it. But this is common with rookie hitters. He came up and performed well out of the gate before pitchers made adjustments to his strengths. Now it’s his turn to make the adjustments. His upside warrants holding onto for a little longer.
#44 Alex Verdugo (OF – LAD)
2018 Stats (AAA): .276/.309/.474/.782, 3 2B, 4 HR (76 AB)
2018 Stats (MLB): 3/9
Great hit tool, minimal power and speed. That’s the most simplified scouting report you’ll find for Verdugo. However, the hit tool is strong with this one and warrants a look in standard leagues as playing time has opened up with Corey Seager’s season-ending injury.
#45 Tyler O’Neill (OF – STL)
2018 Stats (AAA): .351/.350/.737/1.087, 2 2B, 6 HR (57 AB)
2018 Stats (MLB): 0/7
See McMahon above. There’s no spot for O’Neill in St. Louis, and until there is, don’t waste a spot on him in 2018 re-draft leagues.
#56 Franklin Barreto (2B/SS – OAK)
2018 Stats (AAA): .300/.390/.580/.970, 5 2B, 3 HR, 1 SB (50 AB)
My colleague, Joe Pisapia, said it best on his Fantasy Baseball Live show earlier this week when he said, “Jed Lowrie hasn’t gotten hurt and Marcus Semien hasn’t sucked enough.” That’s basically what it boils down to for Barreto in 2018. But keep an eye on him, as one of those two aforementioned things are bound to happen at some point.
#60 Miguel Andujar (3B – NYY)
2018 Stats (MLB): .287/.300/.552/.852, 12 2B, 3 HR
Everything about Andujar offensively is legit. He has a violent, yet controlled, swing and makes consistent hard contact, which he has displayed over his first 87 Major League at-bats. Scoop him up quickly if he still happens to be available in your league.
NR Peter Alonso (1B – NYM)
2018 Stats (AA): .400/.500/.788/1.288, 7 2B, 8 HR (80 AB)
There’ aren’t many minor league hitting prospects, if any at all, that are hotter than the Mets’ Peter Alonso. I mean, just look at that slash line and eight ding dongs. He could become a fantasy factor later in the season.
There are plenty more hitting prospects worth mentioning, but in the interest of time, I’ll wrap this up. Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout here on Fantrax. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Ask below or follow me on Twitter and ask there.