Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: The Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Show
Well, this is the most exciting prospects report yet this season. I jammed so much into this report, I was worried about breaking the Fantrax servers or causing rolling blackouts. The baseball world got turned upside down, sideways, and backward when the Blue Jays announced they were promoting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to the show for his Major League debut on Friday, marking the end of a seemingly eternal wait for the most talked about prospect since Bryce Harper.
This report isn’t just about Vlad though. There have been several other Major League debuts of note over the past week as well. Unfortunately, there’s some negative news this week too as one of Guerrero’s former teammates landed on the IL and a couple of high upside arms experienced setbacks in their respective attempts to return to the mound.
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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report – Welcome Vladimir Guerrero Jr
Finally! That might have been the third most frequently used word over the last 12-18 hours after “Vladimir” and Guerrero”. Unless you live on Antarctica or Mars, you heard the news yesterday that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will make his Major League debut on Friday. Say what you want about how the Blue Jays handled the whole situation, and you can join me for an adult beverage to bitch about service time, but it’s Vladdy time and okay to freak out accordingly.
If you’re the proud owner of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in a dynasty or re-draft league, congratulations. Do you think you got a ton of mostly pathetic offers for Vlad so far? Well, in the wise words of Bachman Turner Overdrive, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. B-b-b-baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-nothin’ yet.”
INTO THE PARKING LOT!!!
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) April 17, 2019
In dynasty, I wouldn’t advise dealing the wonder kid, but in re-draft leagues, I’d entertain the notion if someone knocked my socks off with an offer. If someone wants to severely overpay for a player they think is going to hit .350 with 30-plus homers the rest of the way, let them do it. Could Guerrero do that? I’d never rule anything out when it comes to him, but right now, he’s the biggest bargaining chip any fantasy baseball owner could have outside of Mike Trout or Christian Yelich.
Honestly, I could ramble on for days about Vlad and his greatness, but you already know all that by now. The hit tool is elite, as is the raw power, which is a combination no current prospect or any prospect in recent memory can match. His father is in the hall of fame and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Junior bests his dad’s numbers when his career is complete. Regardless of whether you own him in fantasy, are a Blue Jays, or just a fan of the game, sit back and enjoy the ride.
While one top Blue Jays prospect is set to make his Major League debut, Bo Bichette got hit by a pitch on his left hand and has been diagnosed with a fractured 2nd metacarpal. The duration of Bichette’s absence is still to be determined, but we’re likely not going to see him back in action until June. Bichette was hitting .250 with one homer, three steals, and eight RBI in 14 games for Triple-A Buffalo this season.
#BlueJays No. 2 prospect Bo Bichette reportedly has a broken left hand after being hit by a pitch in last night's @BuffaloBisons game. Bichette is #MLB's No. 10 overall prospect: https://t.co/GHKO6yYsIe pic.twitter.com/QepJm89uYm
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 23, 2019
Nick Senzel Returns
While one top-20 prospect is heading to the IL, another returned to action Monday. Nick Senzel made his season debut for Triple-A Louisville Monday after missing close to a month with a sprained ankle. Where did he play in the field in his two games back you ask? That would be center field where the Reds were working him out in spring training. With Matt Kemp on the IL with a broken rib and both Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker struggling to begin the season (stick with Winker in fantasy), Senzel has a chance to come up relatively soon and play regularly. When that happens, you’re going to want him on your team for his ability to hit for a high average with moderate power and speed, so stashing him in the near future is highly advised.
Michael Chavis Arrives in Boston
The second base position in Boston has been a revolving door over the last couple of years. Dustin Pedroia is no longer capable of remaining healthy and all other options haven’t proven to have any long-lasting success. Enter Michael Chavis, the Red Sox top prospect. Chavis was originally drafted as a shortstop out of high school but was quickly shifted to the hot corner where he has spent the majority of his time in the minors. Until recently that is. With the Red Sox needing some stability at the keystone, Chavis got some work in at the position for Triple-A Pawtucket and has now made two starts there for Boston since his promotion.
With Pedroia back on the shelf, there’s an opportunity for Chavis to receive regular playing time at 2nd base moving forward. He was hitting .250 with four homers in 12 Triple-A games before his promotion and has shown the ability to hit for both power and average during his minor league career. He wasted no time flashing his plus power the other day, hitting a mammoth 441-foot blast for his first career Major League home run. As long as he’s playing regularly, Chavis is worth owning in mixed leagues.
That's one way to announce your arrival. #RedSox No. 1 prospect Michael Chavis launched a ball out of Fenway Park for his first #MLB home run. The 🚀 traveled 441 feet with an exit velocity of 110.2 mph.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 24, 2019
Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds, my #6 and #9 Pittsburgh prospects respectively, were promoted to Pittsburgh earlier this week. Tucker has started all five games at shortstop, collecting four hits and a home run in 17 at-bats while Reynolds was 6/12 in his first four starts before leaving Tuesday’s game with quad discomfort. He’s currently listed as day-to-day.
Both players have a chance to play regularly moving forward and provide fantasy value. They’re taking the spots of Erik Gonzalez at short and Starling Marte in center field after the duo collided last Friday sending both players to the injured list. Gonzalez is slated to be out a while after needing surgery for his broken collarbone, making Tucker a solid pickup for anyone in need of a shortstop or a boost in the speed department. Reynolds is more of a short-term option while Marte is on the IL, but is worth a look for his ability to hit for a good average and chip in modestly in the power and speed departments.
2nd TJS for Anderson Espinoza
Once upon a time, Anderson Espinoza was one of the top pitching prospects in the game. That “time” feels like ages ago now as Espinoza hasn’t pitched in a game since August 31 of 2016. Don’t expect him back any time soon either. Espinoza just underwent his second Tommy John surgery, which will sideline him for all of 2019 and likely a big chunk of 2020 as well. You hate to see stuff like this.
Brent Honeywell Setback
Speaking of Tommy John surgery, Brent Honeywell has been working his way back after having the surgery in February of 2018 and was expected back sometime before the All-Star break. That was until he experienced soreness in his surgically repaired elbow that caused a trip to the infamous Dr. James Andrews. The examination found no structural damage so it looks like just some additional rest will be needed. Regardless, it’s a setback that means we likely won’t see Honeywell make his Major League debut until much later in the season, or possibly not until 2020.
Darwinzon Hernandez Debuts
Arguably the Red Sox top pitching prospect, Darwinzon Hernandez, got the call to Boston Monday for the Red Sox doubleheader (Which they lost, what a shock) against Detroit. Hernandez pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out four. The big lefty has made big strides over the last couple of years and has the upside of a high-K #3 starter, but will likely be used out of the bullpen mostly this season. With a plus fastball/slider combination, he can be a big spark for a putrid Boston bullpen but can be left on the wire in re-draft leagues. Longterm, his command and changeup development will determine if he can remain a starter or if the bullpen is his final destination.
Justus Sheffield Making Spot Start
In an effort to limit Yusei Kikuchi’s innings this season, the Mariners will have him make an abbreviated start tomorrow, serving as the opener with Justus Sheffield likely entering the game in the second inning. Sheffield was my #98 overall prospect in my top-250 back in February and had a 3.93 ERA in Triple-A this season, albeit, with more walks than strikeouts. The long-term outlook is still bright, but I wouldn’t recommend adding him in re-draft leagues right now.
Prospect Spotlight: Kevin Smith, 3B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays
With Vladimir Guerrero Jr getting the call to Toronto, I figured it was a good time to shift our sights to another Blue Jays top prospect on the left side of the infield. Over the last 12 months or so, I’ve been one of the highest in the industry when it comes to Kevin Smith. I ranked him 39th in my top-250 back in February while most other sites had him out of the top-50 and some closer to 100.
So why am I so high on Smith? Easy. His strong across the board upside is the reason for my admiration. Here’s a little tidbit from my Blue Jays top-25 back in January:
“Smith uses a balanced pre-pitch setup with a small bat waggle and hands neck high. Body is loose and fluid through the motions. Smith uses a moderate leg kick and rear leg load, hands coil back and then explode through the zone with plus bat speed and a clean swing path.”
I would slap 55-grades on his hit tool, power, and speed, which translates roughly to .280/25/25. Nice right? Smith was even better than that last season, hitting .302 with 25 home runs and 29 steals in 129 combined games between the Midwest League (A) and Florida State League (A+). He’s off to a slow start this season for Double-A New Hampshire, but still has two homers and a steal through his first 16 games. If you can grab Smith for anything below a top-50 prospect value, I’d jump at the opportunity.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Chavez Young, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Let’s stay in the Toronto system, shall we? Damn, with all this Toronto talk, I might just break into my own personal rendition of Tom Sawyer by the Canadian rock band Rush. While that’s a great song, you’re not here for my golden pipes (very much joking). While most of the attention is on the infield in this farm system, there’s a breakout prospect in the outfield that deserves your attention.
Meet Chavez Young, a 21-year-old outfield prospect from the Bahamas. In 2018, Young slashed .285/.363/.445/.808 with 50 extra-base hits, eight home runs, 88 runs, and 44 steals in 125 Single-A games.
“First and foremost, Young is an incredible athlete with easy plus speed, both on the bases and in center field, and has a strong throwing arm. As a switch hitter, Young has displayed a good feel for hitting from both sides, but is more advanced with a touch more power from the left side. The swing is clean with plus bat speed and enough loft for home run totals in the teens annually. With this type of all-around skillset, Young has the chance to blossom into a strong leadoff hitter with enticing fantasy potential. This is a name to grab now in dynasty while his price is still relatively low.”
I couldn’t have said that better myself. Oh wait, I did say that. The plus-plus speed is the main reason why you want Young in dynasty leagues. The above-average contact skills and double-digit power is just gravy. Young has progressed to high Class-A Dunedin in the Florida State League where he has a home run and four steals in his first 16 games this season. Like I said above, Young is a player worth adding now in dynasty if he’s available.
Prospects Gone Wild
This spot will highlight some top prospect performances and trends throughout the season.
- Josh Naylor (SD): Hitting .349 with 4 2B, 5 HR, and more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) over the last 10 days.
- Will Benson (CLE): Has 5 HR and 4 SB over the last 10 days with a .423 average.
- Wander Franco (TB): Catching fire of late with 7 XBH and 4 SB over the last 10 days. Hit first homer of the season yesterday.
- Yordan Alvarez (HOU): Continues to hit for a ton of power, slugging five dingers in his last 10 games.
- Seth Beer (HOU): Hitting .429 with 8 XBH in last 10 days.
- Sam Huff (TEX): Has 5 HR in last 8 games.
- Cavan Biggio (TOR): Hitting .478 over the last 10 days.
- Jarred Kelenic (SEA): Hitting .467 over the last 10 days.
- Casey Mize (DET): Has 15 scoreless innings over his last three starts, allowing only two hits and one walk.
- Matt Manning (DET): Racked up 17 strikeouts in his last two starts (10.2 IP).
- Brendan McKay: 16 strikeouts in last two starts (9 IP).
- Lewis Thorpe (MIN): Has 24 K in his last 13.2 IP.
- Nate Pearson (TOR): Hitting grove with 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 12 K over last two starts.
- Spencer Howard (PHI): 18 K in last 2 starts.
- Ryan Rolison (COL): Dominant in last two starts, firing 12 scoreless innings with 14 K.
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.
- Nick Senzel, 3B/OF, CIN | Last: 1. Returned to action this week with Triple-A Louisville.
- Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL | Last: 2
- Nate Lowe, 1B, TB | Last: 3
- Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS | Last: 4
- Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU | Last: 8
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 5
- Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B, COL | Last: 7
- Austin Riley, 3B, ATL | Last: 9
- Bo Bichette, SS, TOR | Last: 10. Suffered broken hand this week. Still undetermined how much time he’ll miss.
- Cavan Biggio, 2B/OF, TOR | Last: NR
HM: Ke’Bryan Hayes and Luis Urias
Called Up: Michael Chavis, Cole Tucker
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 2. Has not made season debut yet. Still shut down.
- Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU | Last: 3
- Touki Toussaint, RHP, ATL | Last: NR. Got rocked in his first start of the season and is now back down in Triple-A.
- Kyle Wright, RHP, ATL | Last: 4
- Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW | Last: 6
- Jon Duplantier, RHP, ARI | Last: 7
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 8. Yet to make season debut.
- Justus Sheffield, LHP, SEA | Last: 9. Making spot start Friday.
- Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT | Last: 10
- Brent Honeywell, RHP, TB | Last: 5. Yet to make season debut. Suffered setback in recovery.
HM: Griffin Canning, Logan Allen
Called Up: Bryse Wilson, Mike Soroka
Photo/Video Credit: MLB Pipeline, Buffalo Bison, Josh Norris, Cliff Welch/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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