Last week was fun, wasn’t it? Sure it was. Anytime we get to break down prospects is a great time. And I figured since we had so much fun last week, we’d do it again this week! Can you feel the excitement?!
After going over the #100-81 prospects last week, we tackle 20 more this week that are a little better than the last bunch. Out of the players below, several are high-upside toolsy hitters in the low minors. These players have future fantasy stud written all over them if they can continue to develop their immense offensive skills. Alongside them are a plethora of future #2 starters and several potential future staff aces.
80. Pavin Smith, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks, ETA 2019
2017 (A-): 195 AB, 15 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 2 SB, 27 RBI, 34 R, .318/.401/.415/.816
Let me start by saying that Pavin Smith is a talented hitter that makes good contact and has an advanced approach at the plate. Now that that’s out of the way, where is the freaking power, Pavin? Not one home run in 195 at-bats? Are you kidding me? Sure, the 27/24 BB/K ratio is great, as is the AVG and OBP, but a weak first baseman isn’t going to cut the mustard in fantasy baseball. Smith is more powerful than he let on in 2017, but he still doesn’t profile as anything more than 20-25 home run hitter in his prime.
79. Mickey Moniak, OF, Philadelphia Phillies, ETA 2020
2017 (A): 466 AB, 22 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 11 SB, 44 RBI, 53 R, .236/.284/.341/.625
Careful, Mickey. If you keep this up, you’re going to drop down my list as quickly as your Philadelphia prospect brother, J.P. Crawford. I’m sure the Phillies were saying, “Oh, Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind,” when they slightly reached and took him with the top overall pick in 2016. However, he’s now about as productive as the person who sung that song. Paging Toni Basil. Moniak has minimal power, plus speed, and allegedly a plus hit tool. That’s what scouts keep saying, yet he continuously proves them wrong. There’s a good chance he does start pumping out .300 batting average seasons, but the lack of power limits his upside.
78. Jorge Alfaro, C, Philadelphia Phillies, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 324 AB, 13 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 1 SB, 43 RBI, 34 R, .241/.291/.358/.649
2017 (MLB): 107 AB, 6 2B, 5 HR, 0 SB, 14 RBI, 12 R, .318/.360/.514/.874
Spoiler alert: I’m including only two catchers on this list, and Alfaro is one of them. There’s not much to say here, either. Alfaro has plus power, a so-so hit tool, and basically no speed. Unless he vastly improves his contact woes, he’s never going to hit higher than .250-.260 or so. However, Alfaro’s power is for real, and he should hit 25+ home runs annually. If you want an MLB comparison, think Yasmani Grandal or 2017 Mike Zunino.
77. Jorge Mateo, SS/OF, Oakland Athletics, ETA 2019
2017 (A+/AA): 532 AB, 30 2B, 18 3B, 12 HR, 52 SB, 57 RBI, 90 R, .267/.322/.459/.781
Mateo is so fast, he just won the pole for the Daytona 500 next month without getting into a race car. Think about how fast us normal humans run to the bathroom when last night’s taco salad puts our intestines in a sleeper hold. Now multiply that by about 10 and you’ll equal Mateo’s speed. Very few prospects possess 80-grade speed … or 80-grade anything, for that matter. The rest of his fantasy game lags behind, but he should be able to hit in the vicinity of .275 with 10-15 home runs annually to go along with his 40+ stolen bases.
76. Joey Wentz, SP, Atlanta Braves, ETA 2020
2017 (A): 131.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 10.4 K/9
You better get used to Atlanta Braves pitching prospects because there more of them coming. They might not re-create the early ’90s Braves rotation quartet of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery, but damn does this group have some talent. Right smack dab in the middle of this talented group is 6-foot-5 left-hander Joey Wentz. After a tough season in rookie ball, Wentz decided to remind everyone why the Braves drafted him in the first round of the 2016 amateur draft. He combines a low to mid-90s fastball with a plus curveball and change-up that are still developing. His control is still a work in progress, but if he can hone that in, Wentz has the upside of a No. 2 starter.
75. Dustin Fowler, OF, Oakland Athletics, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 297 AB, 19 2B, 8 3B, 13 HR, 13 SB, 43 RBI, 49 R, .293/.329/.542/.871
Fowler falls into that category of good prospects with solid potential that don’t wow you with any one facet of their game. The one area of his offensive game that’s considered plus is his speed, but he projects as more of a 30-stolen base threat than a 40+ steals speedster. His hit tool and power are both graded as average, but they have shown improvement over Fowler’s time in the minors. A comparison I keep coming back to for Fowler is another Fowler (Dexter), with less plate discipline and a tad more power. He should force his way into Oakland’s outfield sometime mid-season.
74. Brett Phillips, OF, Milwaukee Brewers, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 383 AB, 23 2B, 10 3B, 19 HR, 9 SB, 78 RBI, 79 R, .305/.377/.567/.944
2017 (MLB): 87 AB, 3 2B, 4 HR, 5 SB, 12 RBI, 9 R, .276/.351/.448/.799
Let’s just chalk up 2016 as a bad season for Phillips. Over his last four seasons, Phillips has three seasons of a .900+ OPS and then his disastrous 2016 season when he hit .229 with a .729 OPS. I’m going to lean toward the three positive seasons over the one bad one. As you can see from his 2017 stats above, Phillips has a nice power/speed blend with much more potential on the basepaths going forward than he’s shown. His free-swinging ways will likely limit his average, but there’s legit 25/25 upside here.
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73. Justus Sheffield, SP, New York Yankees, ETA 2019
2017 (RK/AA): 98.0 IP, 3.12, 1.35, 3.1 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
Though he’s a little smaller than most of the pitchers on this list, Sheffield’s three plus pitches from the left side warrant his inclusion. He combines a 92-96 mph heater with a plus slider and above average change-up. The biggest concern about Sheffield is his inability to limit contact and the long ball. Allowing 1.3 HR/9 is going to get you eaten alive in the major leagues. His strikeout rate has also dropped every season since his 2014 professional debut. Long story short, he needs to start missing more bats.
72. Kyle Wright, SP, Atlanta Braves, ETA 2019
2017 (RK/A+): 17.0 IP, 2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 9.5 K/9
Whatever they’re putting in the water down at Vanderbilt University, I want some, too. They just keep pumping out top-level hurlers, and Wright is the latest example. After going fifth in the 2017 draft, Wright snuck in nine starts, amassing a 2.65 ERA and 9.5 K/9. It was only 17 innings, but Wright should move quickly through the Braves system thanks to four above-average offerings and his advanced polish on the hill. If he can gain a few ticks on his 91-94 mph fastball and continue to develop hi hard curveball, Wright could end up as a No. 2 starter in the Majors.
71. Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 506 AB, 30 2B, 5 3B, 10 HR, 11 SB, 62 RBI, 74 R, .277/.360/.415/.776
After 506 Triple-A at-bats in 2017, Adames is knocking at the door to the Major Leagues. He displays a plus hit too, developing power and at least average speed on the basepaths. His plus-defense should keep him at shortstop long-term, which is great for his fantasy value. He might not possess elite upside, but .280/15/15 would still make him a starting fantasy shortstop. Adames provides a high floor, too, so there’s not too much risk to invest in him in dynasty formats.
70. Matt Manning, SP, Detroit Tigers, ETA 2020
2017 (A-/A): 51.0 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 10.9 K/9
He might have only 80.1 professional innings under his belt, but Manning is already giving us a taste of his very high upside. He uses his mid-90s fastball and plus hammer curve to generate plenty of swings and misses, demonstrated by his 12.1 K/9 rate so far in his minor league career. His control and change-up are still a work in progress, but Manning is still relatively raw as a pitcher and still has plenty of time to mature into a frontline starter.
I asked Emily Waldon, a writer for The Athletic Detroit and minorleagueball.com covering the Detroit Tigers system, her thoughts about Manning:
“One of the most eye-catching aspects to Manning’s makeup to me has always been his level of poise at such a young age. Facing his first true competition when he arrived in the Midwest League in 2017, we got to see a great look at his situational awareness as well as knowing his fastball wouldn’t carry him through every hitter he faced. While some grew concerned when he let off the gas on his fastball last season, it was just him focusing on learning to mix properly and giving more attention to the development of his secondary. He’s likely headed back to Class A West Michigan to start the year, but could see a mid-season jump to the Florida State League, as long as he’s able to maintain his arsenal against Midwest League hitters.”
69. Starling Heredia, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, ETA 2021
2017 (RK/A): 209 AB, 19 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 10 SB, 34 RBI, 43 R, .325/.397/.555/.952
The casual baseball fan has probably never heard of Starling Heredia. Prospect hounds and dynasty managers have, and if Heredia continues to progress as hoped, those casual fans will soon very much aware of this toolsy imposing force. Heredia is listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, but if you’ve ever seen him, you know that’s a lie. This man is an absolute tank and can square up a baseball like a tank launching a missile. If Heredia stays in shape and continues to develop his craft, there’s .280/30/30 upside here. However, he’s still ways away from fulfilling that projection.
68. Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland Athletics, ETA 2020
2017 (RK/A-): 43.1 IP, 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 1.0 BB/9, 10.0 K/9
You have to love a lefty with two plus offerings and pinpoint control. And if you don’t, then I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do to help you at this point. Originally drafted by the Nationals, Lozardo was the headliner going to Oakland in the deal that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to D.C. last season. After missing a year due to Tommy John surgery, Luzardo debuted with a bang. He compiled a 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, and a microscopic 1.00 BB/9 in 43.1 innings between rookie ball and low Class-A. His fastball, change-up, and control are all Major League ready, but it will be the development of his curveball that determines if Luzardo is a mid-rotation arm or a staff ace.
— Michael Lananna 🔥 (@mlananna) June 10, 2016
67. Jake Burger, 3B, Chicago White Sox, ETA 2020
2017 (RK/A): 194 AB, 10 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 0 SB, 29 RBI, 25 R, .263/.336/.412/.749
Don’t let Burger’s lackluster professional debut scare you away from him in dynasty formats. He was the best power bat in the 2017 draft class and that hasn’t changed after 194 at-bats. Burger is built like a double whopper with cheese and hit plenty of whopping shots during his collegiate career at Missouri State. Obviously, that power hasn’t fully translated to the minors yet, but just give it time. Also, you’re not just getting a burger here; there are some tasty fries to go with it. Those fries were a poor attempt at me saying he has a plus hit tool and a solid approach at the plate. Once he puts it all together, we should be looking at a .280, 35-home run, middle-of-the-order slugger.
66. Yordan Alvarez, OF/1B, Houston Astros, ETA 2020
2017 (A/A+): 335 AB, 17 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 8 SB, 69 RBI, 45 R, .304/.379/.481/.859
I’ll fully admit that I’m a sucker for Cuban hitters. It all started with Yasiel Puig and has just gotten worse and worse each passing year. When I see a 6-foot-5, 225-pound Cuban slugger with plus raw power, I salivate just a tad. That’s exactly what Alvarez is. He’s not just a slugger, either. Alvarez shows decent judgment at the plate and makes solid contact for a man his size. He’s already showing .280/30/15 upside with the potential for more. Don’t be surprised to see his name 20+ spots higher in my mid-season rankings update.
65. Heliot Ramos, OF, San Francisco Giants, ETA 2021
2017 (RK): 138 AB, 11 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, 10 SB, 27 RBI, 33 R, .348/.404/.645/1.049
Ranking a player this high after just 138 professional at-bats might be rushing into things a little bit, but hey, when you know someone is a special talent and backs it up right out of the gate, it’s okay to get excited. Especially when you need to put a one in front of the decimal point in the OPS. Nearly half (47.9%) of Ramos’ hits last season went for extra bases.
He generates easy plus raw power from the right side, and that power is beginning to show up more frequently in games. Once he refines his approach at the plate, Ramos should be able to fully tap into his 30+ home run power. Oh, and did I mention he’s a plus runner, too? Yeah, there’s a lot to like about this kid. He’s still several years away from the majors, which is why I didn’t get even more giddy about him and rank him in the top-50, but a strong season in Single-A will shoot him up these rankings.
64. Monte Harrison, OF, Miami Marlins ETA 2019
2017 (A/A+): 453 AB, 28 2B, 2 3B, 21 HR, 27 SB, 67 RBI, 73 R, .272/.350/.481/.832
Think of Monte Harrison as an older, slightly more developed Ramos. There are a lot of similarities between the two. Both possess plus power and speed but need to work on their approach at the plate to fully realize their 30/30 potential. Harrison hit .272 with 21 home runs and 27 steals on 31 attempts last season between Single-A and high Class-A and should open the 2018 season in Double-A with his new organization after the Marlins acquired him in the Christian Yelich deal.
63. Jon Duplantier, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, ETA 2019
2017 (A/A+): 136.0 IP, 1.39 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 10.9 K/9
The Diamondbacks look like they might have found their future ace when they took Duplantier in the third round of the 2016 amateur draft. There were questions about his durability as a starter entering pro ball. However, Duplantier has put a kibosh on those concerns for now after a dominant first full minor league season. He struck out 165 batters in just 136 innings thanks to his hammer curve and low-90s sinker that can get as high as 95-96 mph. Duplantier’s change-up lags behind those other two pitches but should be at least an average offering.
62. Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves, ETA 2020
2017 (AA): 153.2 IP, 2.75 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
Don’t let the lower strikeout rate fool you. Soroka is a front-line starter in the making. He might be only 20, but Soroka pitches with the poise of a 10-year veteran. He combines a 91-96 mph sinking fastball that has great downward tilt thanks to his 6-foot-5 frame, with a plus curveball and developing change-up that has also flashed plus potential. You know what the best thing about Soroka is, though? He has excellent control over all his pitches. That’s rare for someone at this stage of development. Soroka might never post gaudy strikeout numbers, but neither did Felix Hernandez during his run of dominance. Don’t sleep on this high-upside righty.
61. Chance Adams, SP, New York Yankees, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 150.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 8.1 K/9.
Yeah, you could say the transition to the starting rotation worked out well for Adams two years ago. All he’s done as a starter in 2016-2017 is post a 2.40 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and 9.0 K/9. Oh, and win 28 of his 34 starts. That’s not really fantasy relevant, but it’s damn sure impressive. His K/9 rate dropped as he faced more advanced competition, but Adams has the arsenal needed to get back over 10 K/9. He has a dominating four-pitch arsenal, headlined by his mid-90s heater and sharp biting slider. If he can improve his command over his arsenal, Adams has the upside that could land him atop the Yankees rotation one day.
Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout here on Fantrax. A special thank you to Emily Waldon for her insight into Matt Manning. Make sure to give her a follow on Twitter @EmilyCWaldon. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.