Injuries are the name of the game in this week’s prospect report. We have a few top prospects working their way back from injuries and one elite prospect in Luis Robert that has seen his dynasty stock suffer a bit due to various injuries over the last couple seasons. In this week’s player spotlight, Robert is our focus and I explain why he still needs to be valued as a top-20 prospect with the potential to rise to top-10 status before too long. In addition, we have our first Prospects Gone Wild segment, highlighting some prospects that have started the season strong.
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Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report – Headlines/Notes
Vladimir Guerrero Jr Update
“Where the BLEEP is Vladdy?!”
At the moment, that answer is Buffalo, NY. Guerrero is expected to join Buffalo, Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, this weekend after spending four games with High-A Dundelin in the Florida State League to begin his rehab assignment. Those four games were nothing special as Vlad went just 4/15 with one extra-base hit, but it’s just a step closer to him making his Major League debut later this month.
A source tells @JesseSanchezMLB that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is headed to the Triple-A @BuffaloBisons. #MLB/#BlueJays' No. 1 prospect went 4-for-15 in 4 rehab starts with the @DunedinBlueJays: https://t.co/GHKO6yYsIe pic.twitter.com/YWZfZco1aZ
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 10, 2019
It’s worth noting that Guerrero didn’t exactly report to camp in “the best shape of his life” like everyone else claimed to be. He might not have been “40 pounds overweight” like Dennis Eckersley claimed, but his conditioning is definitely something to keep an eye on. But as long as he doesn’t turn into Bartolo Colon overnight, Vladdy is likely going to be a beast this season and instantly become the best hitter in Toronto’s lineup. Not that that’s hard to do right now.
Michael Chavis Working at 1B and 2B
For prospects, flexibility is key. That is especially true for SS and 3B prospects in the Red Sox organization. Earlier this month, Boston signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a long-term extension through 2025 and will have Rafael Devers under team control until 2023. So what is a guy like Chavis to do? Oh yeah, he can just be a designated hitter! Wrong. JD Martinez has that spot locked up for the next few seasons.
So with the hot corner, shortstop, and DH filled, the Red Sox top prospect has been playing off of his natural position of third base some over the last season-plus, getting time in at both first base and second base. Chavis made 37 starts in the field last season, 26 at third and 11 at first, and now has played two games each at second and third this season with one start at first base as well.
If he wants to get to the Majors this season in more than just a reserve role, it’s going to be on the right side of the infield. Boston has been using a serviceable, yet unspectacular platoon of Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland at first and have no real firm answer at the keystone unless Dustin Pedroia magically regains some durability. Chavis has proven his bat is nearly ready for the show and should be up at some point this summer. When he is up, he’ll immediately be on the fantasy radar, assuming he’s playing regularly, for his ability to hit for both average and power.
Sixto Sanchez Nearing Return
Sixto is almost fixto. Like I’ve said, Dad jokes are my thing. Sixto Sanchez was on an absolute roll last season for high-A Clearwater, with a 1.05 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9, and 10.2 K/9 in his last four starts of the season. The only problem with that is that his last four starts of the season were from May 11th to June 3rd instead of in August. After that start on June 3rd, which was seven shutout innings, Sanchez felt some elbow soreness and missed the rest of the season. Fast forward to October and Sanchez was getting ready to make up for lost time when he experienced some pain in his right collarbone. The injury woes weren’t enough to deter the Marlins from acquiring Sanchez in the JT Realmuto deal this offseason and the upside here is still immensely high, albeit, with some added risk now.
Luis Urias Promoted: With Ian Kinsler not hitting his weight so far this season (.176 AVG, .576 OPS), the Padres have promoted Luis Urias from Triple-A and hit him leadoff in his debut. Following that was a spot on the bench then hitting in the 8th spot last night. Urias isn’t the flashiest guy around, but there’s some mixed-league appeal here due to his upside in the batting average department. However, he’s off to an 0/8 start and might find himself back down at Triple-A if he doesn’t get it going.
Braves Promote Alex Jackson: With Brian McCann hitting the IL, the Braves promoted 2014 #6 overall pick Alex Jackson to pair with Tyler Flowers behind the plate. Jackson possesses plus raw power but has some questions surrounding his contact skills and plate approach, which were very prominent last season with his .201 average and 31.8% strikeout rate last season. Outside of NL-Only leagues, it’s best to leave him on the waiver wire.
Prospect Spotlight: Luis Robert, OF, CHW
As many of you know, I’ve been a big Luis Robert supporter from the second he signed with the White Sox. Today, I’m going to explain why. Based on his raw tools, Robert is a borderline top-10 talent, albeit, one with a great deal or risk due to his less than durable nature.
When you look at his stats as a whole, you’ll likely come away impressed. In 84 career minor league games (296 AB), Robert has slashed .294/.397/.463/.860 with 32 extra-base hits, seven homers, and 30 steals in 38 attempts. His start to the 2019 season are equally as impressive as Robert has 11 hits in his first 26 at-bats with four homers and three steals. The problem is that those 296 at-bats have come over two and a half seasons due to various injuries and stints on the former Disabled List. You kids will learn about the DL in a history book someday.
— Michael Schneider (@mikecschneider) April 5, 2019
Though the durability is a concern, the tantalizing tools Robert possesses cannot be denied. First and foremost is his plus-plus speed that has been an asset both on the bases and in the outfield. The power isn’t as prominent, but with some added loft, Robert has enough raw power to annually be in the 15-20 homer range and maybe a tad more with how much hard contact Robert generates. That’s really what has been the most impressive. Robert routinely scorches the ball all over the field thanks to above-average contact skills and lightning-quick bat speed.
Basically, what I’m saying is that Robert needs to still valued as an elite prospect. I still have him as my #20 overall prospect and can easily see Robert pushing top-10 by my mid-season update. If there’s any buy-low opportunity still in your league, I’d pounce.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Taylor Walls, SS, TB
In addition to the prospect spotlight section, I’m adding a second one for sleeper prospects each week. Aren’t I a good guy? Starting this section off is a 3rd round pick from the 2017 draft in Taylor Walls. As a middle infielder in a system rich with middle infield talent, Walls hasn’t yet gotten the recognition he deserves. But if he continues to hit like he did last season in the Single-A Midwest, Walls will be making a name for himself in prospect circles very soon. Walls finished 2018 with a .304/.393/.428/.821 slash line, 28 doubles, six homers, and 31 SB in 467 at-bats.
Above-average contact skills, plus speed, and a rock-solid plate approach are the reasons why Walls is featured in this section. As a switch hitter, Walls has shown a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate, hitting .352 while batting right-handed and .283 left-handed last season. He’s been able to keep his strikeout rate in check and recorded a 12.8% walk rate last season, pushing his OBP close to .400. There’s not a ton of power potential here, but the AVG/Speed upside is legit and makes Walls a prospect on the rise to keep on your radar in dynasty leagues.
Prospects Gone Wild
This spot will highlight some top prospect performances and trends throughout the season.
- Yordan Alvarez (HOU): .391/.500/1.130/1.630, 2 2B and 5 HR in first 23 AB. Also has a 5/5 BB/K ratio.
- Luis Robert (CHW): .423/.483/.962/1.445, 4 HR, 3 SB in first 26 AB.
- Esteury Ruiz (SD): Has 5 SB in first 28 PA.
- Vidal Brujan (TB): Hitting .440 (11/25) with 4 SB so far.
- Royce Lewis (MIN): Showing patient approach with 8/2 BB/K ratio in first 27 PA.
- Nolan Gorman (STL): .393/.455/.786/1.241, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 10 RBI in first 28 AB.
- Zack Collins (CHW): Has hit 4 HR in first 18 AB.
- Cavan Biggio (TOR): 2 HR, 1 SB. 5/4 BB/K in first 20 AB.
- Willie MacIver (COL): 1.420 OPS, 6 XBH, 3 HR in first 24 AB.
- Luis Campusano (SD): 14 hits in first 26 AB with 8 R and 5/4 BB/K ratio.
- Casey Mize (DET): 11 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 15 K in first two starts.
- Matt Manning (DET): 12 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 15 K in first two starts.
- Ryan Weathers (SD): 17/0 K/BB through first 11 IP.
- Logan Gilbert (SEA): 9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K in first two starts.
- Hans Crouse (TEX): 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K in first two starts.
- Brendan McKay (TB): Allowed 3 ER in 4.2 IP, but with 11 K.
- Zac Gallen (MIA): Tossed seven perfect innings in debut with 11 K.
- Both Darwinzon Hernandez (BOS) and Grayson Rodriguez (BAL) struck out 10 in five scoreless innings in their season debuts.
Prospect Power Rankings
Prospects currently in the minors that can make the biggest 2019 impact. This is a combination of ETA and potential 2019 impact.
Hitters (Vlad not Included)
- Nick Senzel, 3B/OF, CIN | Last: 1
- Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL | Last: 2 – With Milwaukee likely contending this year, an injury to Shaw/Moustakas could open the door for Hiura.
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 3 – A 2/21 start isn’t doing Tucker any favors with the hot start Alvarez is off to.
- Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, TB | Last: 4 – A powerful start to the season has his arrival creeping closer and closer.
- Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS | Last: 5
- Michael Chavis, 3B, BOS | Last: 6 – Working out at 1B and 2B could speed up his arrival. Keep an eye on him.
- Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B, COL | Last: 7
- Austin Riley, 3B, ATL | Last: 8
- Bo Bichette, SS, TOR | Last: 9
- Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU | Last: NR
HM: Ke’Bryan Hayes and Cavan Biggio
Called Up: Luis Urias
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 1 – Has not made season debut yet. Still shut down.
- Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU | Last: 2 – Allowed four hits and two earned runs over five innings while walking one and striking out seven in season debut for Triple-A Round Rock.
- Mike Soroka, RHP, ATL | Last: 6 – Strong start to the season in Triple-A. If he continues to pitch well, Soroka could be back in the rotation by the end of May.
- Touki Toussaint, RHP, ATL | Last: 3
- Brent Honeywell, RHP, TB | Last: 4
- Jon Duplantier, RHP, ARI | Last: NR – Back in Triple-A after a cup of coffee with Arizona where he pitched four scoreless innings. Should be back up relatively soon.
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 5
- Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW | Last: 7 – Tossed five shutout innings in Triple-A debut.
- Justus Sheffield, LHP, SEA | Last: 8
- Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT | Last: 9
HM: Griffin Canning, Logan Allen, Colin Poche, and Durbin Feltman.
Photo/Video Credit: MLB Pipeline, Carolina League Prospects, Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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