Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Casey Mize is Unfair
For all of us prospect hounds, the last week has been about as crazy as it can get in the prospect world. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his Major League debut last Friday, instantly providing a boost to a Blue Jays team that desperately needed it. That alone would’ve made it a good week by itself. Let me clear my throat and do my best Billy Mays impersonation… But wait, there’s more! We had a no-hitter two days ago from 2018 No. 1 overall pick, Casey Mize, several prospect promotions, headlined by Carter Kieboom and Nate Lowe, and so much more.
You’re going to need some popcorn and your comfy pants for this week’s prospect report. What I mentioned above is just the tip of the iceberg. Mize isn’t even the only Detroit pitching prospect I’m going to be talking about this week. Heck, I might talk about two more. Who knows? I’m feeling crazy right now so who knows where this prospect report will lead. Strap in!
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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report – Casey Mize is Unfair
Dynamic Detroit Duo – Mize & Manning
Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better than his 0.35 ERA, Casey Mize throws a damn NO-HITTER in his Double-A debut with Erie on Monday night.
Me: “Casey Mize can’t possibly impress me any more than he has during his first four starts of the season.”
Casey Mize: “Hold my beer.”
— Erie SeaWolves (@erie_seawolves) April 30, 2019
That’s what I’m imagining Mize answered my statement with. I’m starting to believe he’s not even human and is from some alien planet that produces insanely good pitchers with him being the first one to travel to planet Earth. Back off Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones! Leave this alien specimen alone so he can dazzle us with more dominating outings this season and beyond. With the no-no on Monday, Mize’s 2019 ERA now sits at 0.26. ZERO POINT TWO SIX. I don’t think I’ve ever shouted this much in one article, but hey, when it’s warranted roll with it.
I’ll save my truly in-depth breakdown of him for when I hopefully get to scout him live later this season, but here’s the low down. Mize sits in the mid-90’s with armside run on his fastball and mixes in a high-80’s cutter, low-80’s slider, and high-80’s splitter. Four pitches and they’re all lethal. The cutter darts hard to the glove side and Mize’s slider has sharp two-plane tilt. And then there’s the splitter. The beautiful, majestic splitter. Mize throws the best splitter I’ve seen since Roger Clemens retired. It’s one of the most devastating pitches in baseball. Not just the minors, in all of baseball.
With this arsenal, plus command, and mound presence out the ying-yang, Mize has future ace written all over him and has firmly cemented his status as one of the top 2-3 pitching prospects in the game. Having him and Matt Manning in the same rotation just isn’t fair to opposing hitters, especially with them pitching back to back. Manning himself has also ascended to the elite ranks of pitching prospects over the last 12 months and could very well be a top-20 overall prospect by season’s end.
A big reason for Manning’s rise has been improved command, especially this season through his first five starts. The stuff has always been there and with the command continuously improving, Manning is beginning to put it all together. Along with improved command, Manning has made strides with his changeup as well, developing it into a third weapon at his disposal to go along with his plus fastball/curve combination. If Manning continues to refine the command, he’s going to make a damn good #2 behind Mize in the Detroit Tigers rotation someday.
Carter Kieboom Promoted
With Trea Turner still out of action for a couple more weeks and no other second baseman on the roster performing well, the Nationals needs a boost in their middle infield. A boom of production, if you will. Enter Carter Kieboom, one of the top shortstop prospects in baseball. In his first 18 Triple-A games, Kieboom slashed .379/.506/.636/1.142 with 10 extra-base hits, three home runs, 18 RBI, and 14 runs scored. None of that out of the norm for Kieboom. But something that is new for him in 2019 is his improved plate approach. Kieboom’s walk rate has nearly doubled from 10.4% in 2018 to 19.3% in 2019. Likely unsustainable to this level, but definitely encouraging.
While Kieboom might be a notch below the elite tier of Wander Franco, Royce, Lewis, and Bo Bichette, he possesses the skills to be an offensive star in this league. Throughout his minor league career, Kieboom has displayed above-average contact skills, an improving plate approach, and above-average to plus raw power. Any time I saw him live, most of the contact he made was loud. Out, hit, it didn’t matter.
In his prime, I think Kieboom can be a .280/25/10 type of hitter while racking up plenty of runs and RBI hitting somewhere in the top half of the batting order alongside Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto. Regardless of if he remains at short pushing Turner to the outfield, or shifts over to second base where he’s seen time in the minors, that type of offensive upside could make him a top-10 player at either position.
Nate Lowe Promoted
So many big things happened this week, I’m surprised my heart didn’t implode on itself. Earlier on Mize’s no-no day, the Rays called up slugging first base prospect Nate Lowe from Triple-A Durham. Lowe was slashing .300/.444/.543/.987 with eight doubles and three homers in 21 games this season after slashing .330/.416/.568/.985 with 27 homers last season split between three different levels. Yeah, the man can hit.
— The Southern League (@SLeagueBaseball) February 27, 2019
Earlier in his minor league career, Lowe’s plus raw power didn’t translate much into game power, combining for just 11 homers in his 649 combined at-bats in 2016-2017. He seemed to be more focused on contact than flexing his easy plus power. Then 2018 game and the 60 extra-base hits and 27 taters that came along with it. In addition that beautiful power, Lowe has displayed an above-average hit tool and an advanced plate approach throughout his minor league career. At the time of his promotion to Tampa Bay, Lowe had a 12.8% walk rate and 18.1% strikeout rate over his 333 minor league games.
This is the type of hitter that projects to hit for both power and average with a high OBP to go along with it. Prime Lowe could look like a .300/35 middle of the order masher, making him one of the most intriguing first basemen to own right now in dynasty leagues.
Nick Senzel Debut Reportedly Set for Friday
Finally. It feels like Nick Senzel has been knocking on the door to the Majors for over a year now. Thanks to Vertigo and a few other roadblocks, that door has remained shut. Until now that is. Jonathan Mayo of MLN.com tweeted out yesterday, “Expect to see top Reds prospect Nick Senzel in Cincinnati at the start of the next homestand on Friday.” Nothing has been officially set in stone yet, but this plus other rumblings seem to indicate the debut will happen.
This debut would’ve come early last season if Senzel hadn’t missed time due to a bout of vertigo. Upin his return, it took him a little bit of time to return to the Senzel we all grew to know and love, but he did eventually pick it up in a big way, finishing the season hitting .310 with six home runs and eight stolen bases in 44 games for Triple-A Louisville.
Fast forward to 2019 spring training and Senzel was competing for the Reds center field job, due to the infield logjam, before he sprained his right ankle which kept him out of action until around a week ago. Just stay healthy Nick, please. This is the type of talent that can make multiple all-star teams throughout a career. Senzel has one of the top hit tools in the minors with clean mechanics and plenty of bat speed. Add in above-average raw power and speed and we have the potential for a well-rounded offensive weapon capable of .300+/20+/20+ in his prime.
Angels Not in the Outfield
Though they weren’t as publicized as Vlad/Lowe/Kieboom, a couple of Angels prospects made their MLB debuts over the last week. Top Angels pitching prospect, right-hander Griffin Canning, made his Major League debut on Tuesday night, allowing three earned runs in 4.1 innings while striking out six Blue Jays. He should get at least one more start, likely in a plus matchup with the light-hitting Detroit Tigers.
Canning entered the season as my #115 overall prospect in my top-250 and was within the top-100 on many other industry lists. His arsenal consists of four above-average offerings which he commands fairly well. The lack of and plus pitches limits his upside to a #3 starter, but with his pitching IQ and plus command, the floor is fairly high here as well. He’s worth a look in standard mixed leagues for his next start at least.
On the other side of the ball, speedy shortstop prospect Luis Rengifo got the call late last week and has been seeing time at second base. Rengifo was also just outside my top-100 at #109 and, like Canning, lacks a high upside, but still possesses some intriguing value moving forward for his speed potential. Rengifo average around 48 steals per every 600 at-bats in the minors, however, that came with a lackluster 72.1% conversion rate. Outside of the speed, Rengifo has average contact skills and enough pop for double-digit homers annually.
Other News of Note
Luis Robert to Double-A: No surprise here. With the scorching start to the season for Robert, this was inevitable. He now will continue his assault on Double-A pitchers in the Southern League.
Alec Bohm Promoted to High-A: After a hot start to the season, the Philadelphia Phillies have promoted their top pick from the 2018 draft to the high-A Florida State League. Bohm was hitting .367 with three homers in 22 games for Single-A Lakewood and went 2/4 in his Clearwater debut.
Heliot Ramos Out: In other injury news, Giants outfielder Heliot Ramos sprained his knee and will miss the next month or so of action. After a down 2018, the high-upside outfielder was enjoying a strong bounceback season in high-A.
Prospect Spotlight: Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners
As soon as I began my research of the 2018 draft class, one player that instantly stood out to me was outfielder, Jarred Kelenic. At the time he was just a senior in high school in his final season before the draft, and it was apparent right away that his all-around offensive skillset was going to make him an intriguing prospect moving forward. Did I think then that he’d be a top-20 prospect for me one year later? Not quite. But I’m also not shocked by my lofty ranking for him either.
First and foremost, Kelenic boasts a plus hit tool with clean mechanics and a downright beautiful left-handed swing. Here’s a blurb about his mechanics from my Seattle Mariners top-25 prospects article back in January:
“Clean and compact from the left side, Kelenic generates plenty of bat speed and hard contact to all fields with a line drive approach. Hands start head high, coil down and back, then explode through the zone with a direct path to the ball. Rear leg load is moderate and Kelenic is able to generate plenty of torque from his quick and strong hips. For a prep bat, Kelenic shows an advanced plate approach and a very good feel for hitting. Everything is fluid.”
— Prep Baseball Report (@prepbaseball) June 4, 2018
If he continues to develop as projected, I feel confident that Kelenic turns into a .280+ hitter with the upside to hit well over .300. In addition to the plus hit tool, Kelenic possesses plus speed and budding raw power that could make him a 20/30 type of player down the road, if not more. This is a very talented and very advanced prep bat that should move quicker than most prep bats you see, with a late-2020 ETA now out of the question, although, 2021 is most likely.
He’s firmly in my top-20 overall prospects right now and could be pushing for top-10 status at my mid-season update. I’d be trying to get as much Kelenic stock as I possibly could in dynasty leagues right now. This kid has the looks of a future star.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Jarren Duran, OF, Boston Red Sox
While the top prospects in the Red Sox system are predominantly mashers, there’s a speedster making some noise in the lower levels that deserves your attention. The Red Sox selected Jarren Duran in the 7th round last June out of Cal State University and all the speedy outfielder has done is get on base and wreak havoc on the basepaths. In 67 games last season split between the NYPL (A-) and Sally (A), Duran hit .357 with 24 steals in 34 attempts. This season has been more of the same and then some with a .404 average and nine steals in 22 games for High Class-A Salem.
As you probably figured out, speed and contact are Duran’s strength. The speed is truly elite, but Duran still needs to improve hit pitcher reads to become a more efficient base stealer. As for the contact, I wouldn’t give him a plus hit tool, but Duran has shown me enough for me to project a 50 or 55-grade hit tool moving forward. I want to see how Duran handles the higher levels of the minor leagues before putting him into my top-200 overall prospects but the tools are there for a Major League regular that can contribute solidly in the batting average and stolen base departments. Those in deeper dynasty leagues should give Duran a look.
Prospects Gone Wild
This spot will highlight some top prospect performances and trends throughout the season.
Hitters (Last 10 Days)
Pitchers (Last 10 Days)
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 – Expected to be called up Friday.
- Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL | Last: 2
- Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU | Last: 5
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 6
- Cavan Biggio, 2B/OF, TOR | Last: 10
- Luis Urias, 2B, SD | Last: NR – Worth a speculative add with Fernando Tatis Jr landing on the IL.
- Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B, COL | Last: 7
- Austin Riley, 3B, ATL | Last: 8
- Bo Bichette, SS, TOR | Last: 9
- Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT | Last: NR
Called Up: Nate Lowe and Carter Kieboom
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 1
- Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU | Last: 2
- Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW | Last: 5
- Touki Toussaint, RHP, ATL | Last: 3
- Kyle Wright, RHP, ATL | Last: 4
- Zac Gallen, RHP, MIA | Last: NR
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 7
- Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT | Last: 9
- Corbin Martin, RHP, HOU | Last: NR
- Brent Honeywell, RHP, TB | Last: 10 – Yet to make season debut. Suffered setback in recovery.
HM: Logan Allen
Called Up: Griffin Canning and Jon Duplantier
Photo/Video Credit: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire, Erie SeaWolves, Prospects Live, Prep Baseball Report, THe Southern League.
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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