Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Two-Way McKay
After a fairly quiet few weeks (compared to April and May) following the MLB draft, the prospect world is once again buzzing. In roughly a 72-hour stretch, it was announced that two of the top pitching prospects in the game, Brendan McKay and Dylan Cease, were on their way to the Major Leagues, creating quite the frenzy on the waiver wire. In addition, Keston Hiura was rightfully freed from his Triple-A prison and brought back up to Milwaukee where he belongs. All three are hot topics this week at the Major League level, and for dynasty leaguers, we have another talented J2 international crop to fight over now after another July 2nd has come and gone. With a lot to get to (as usual), let’s get right to it.
P.S. – Mentioned last week that Wander Franco got promoted to High-A. All he’s done is go 12/26 with three doubles, two home runs, and two steals in his first seven games at the level. Nothing much. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s yet to strike out at the level and has only struck out four times since May 24th. That’s around a month and half of time folks
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-250 prospects (UPDATED 7/1!), Top-300 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Brendan McKay vs Dylan Cease
Brendan McKay or Dylan Cease? When two highly touted prospects come up within a few days of each other that play the same position, this is going to be a common question. Yes, McKay is a two-way guy, and maybe someday he can be an adequate Major League hitter. But not right now. For 2019 re-draft leagues, McKay’s abilities on the mound are why you’re going to want him on your team, which leads me back to the original question of Cease or McKay?
Welp, I guess Brendan McKay has a filthy curveball.
Good to know. pic.twitter.com/ypw1BbSAJK
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) June 29, 2019
Let’s start with 2019. If you combine their arsenals into one pitcher, the best two pitches would come from Cease in his mid-90’s fastball and hammer curveball. But outside of that, a lot of the checkboxes go to McKay, most notably in the command department. While McKay thrived in Double-A and Triple-A, Cease was highly inconsistent throughout the season. After starting the season with back to back outings of five innings and zero runs, Cease only reached the five-inning mark in one of his next five starts and has walked three or more batters in seven of his 15 starts this season.
Honestly, I don’t really care about the 4.48 ERA. I really don’t. Not in Triple-A for a pitcher of this caliber. But what does give me a little pause for this season and give the edge to McKay is the fact that Cease has struggled to consistently command his arsenal all season. His walk rate, while never being great, has risen back up over four this season and Cease has been hit hard when he’s missed on his location.
This all rang true during his MLB debut yesterday against the Detroit Tigers. Cease had a rocky first inning, but settled down for the most part after that, finishing with 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, and 6 K. Not a great line at the surface, but once he settled down, Cease looked solid, hitting the mid to upper 90’s with his fastball and mixing in his curve, changeup, and slider.
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) July 3, 2019
While I believe both Cease and McKay should be rostered in fantasy leagues, I’d rather have McKay on my rosters if I could only choose one. Cease will likely rack up more strikeouts, but McKay is the safer bet for better ratios and a much lower walk rate. Long-term, I have these two ranked very closely, but McKay gets my vote for 2019. Just don’t expect much from him at the plate.
We’ve finally reached the point in the season when short-season leagues are in full swing. This includes rookie level leagues like the Gulf Coast, Appalachian, and Arizona Leagues, as well as the short-season Northwest and New York-Penn Single-A leagues. These leagues are where the vast majority of MLB draftees head to start their minor league careers. But I’ve already covered the MLB draft lately. So today, I want to go over my top-10 prospects currently in short-season Single-A or Rookie Ball, excluding 2019 MLB draft prospects.
1. Kristian Robinson, OF, ARI | Current Rank: 24
With his massive raw power and good feel for hitting, Robinson projects to hit for a high average and 30-plus home runs annually down the road. He also is at least an average runner with the upside for stolen base totals in the teens. After a strong performance in the Arizona and Pioneer Rookie Leagues last season, the Diamondbacks started Robinson in the Northwest League this season and Robinson has been up for the challenge so far. In his first 17 games, Robinson is slashing .313/.390/.493/.882 with six double, two home runs, and five steals.
2. Marco Luciano, SS, SF | Current Rank: 28
Luciano is a hitter I’ve been immensely high on ever since I first watched video of him. With a skinny 6’2 frame, Luciano has already teased us with his plus raw power which could become even more prominent once he adds some bulk. With his exceptional bat speed and strenth, Luciano projects as a 30-homer bat from the shortstop position with above-average bat to ball skills as well. The tools are here for Luciano to develop into a top-10 dynasty prospect in short order. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Luciano is absolutely mashing in the Arizona League right now, slashing .373/.484/.843/1.327 with six home runs in his first 13 games. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Over at @giants vs @Reds #AZL now. Hello Marco Luciano! Just easy power it's stupid. Just misses a HR to LF. Settles for a double. Quick hands and wants to hurt baseballs 💪#ProspectOne pic.twitter.com/KOg7bCL2lq
— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) July 2, 2019
3. George Valera, OF, CLE | Current Rank: 35
George Valera has quickly become a fan favorite amongst dynasty leaguers and it’s easy to see why. He quite possibly is the best pure hitter out of the ten guys listed here with plus contact skills and a smooth swing with clean mechanics. While the hit tool is prominent, Valera has also flashed above-average to plus raw power as well and has already hit four doubles and three home run in 18 NY-Penn League games.
4. Brennen Davis, OF, CHC | Current Rank: 95
I went over Davis in last week’s prospect report, so I’ll keep it brief here. The offensive upside is enormous if he can develop his bat to ball skills and continue to improve his plate approach.
5. Alexander Canario, OF, SF | Current Rank: 109
While Luciano has gotten most of the attention, Alexander Canario was putting on a clinic in the Arizona League this season before his promotion to the Northwest League. In 10 AZL games, Canario cranked seven home runs with a .395 average. He’s struggled initially after the promotion, but there’s a ton of offensive upside here thanks to his above-average hit tool, plus raw power, and double-digit speed.
Others to Monitor: Misael Urbina (OF – MIN), Antonio Cabello (OF – NYY), Everson Pereira (OF – NYY), Noelvi Marte (SS – SEA), Brayan Rocchio (SS – CLE), Alexander Vargas (SS – NYY), Orelvis Martinez (SS – TOR), D’Shawn Knowles (OF – LAA), Luis Toribio (3B -SF), Gabriel Rodriguez (SS – CLE), Gilberto Jimenez (OF – BOS), Kevin Alcantara (OF – NYY), Antoni Flores (SS – BOS)
Other Prospect Notes
Gavin Lux (SS/2B – LAD): If for some reason you go to the bottom for my top-10 prospect stash rankings, you’ll see a couple of newcomers to the hitting top-10, with Gavin Lux being one of them. Coming into the season, Lux wasn’t a player I expected to see up with the Dodgers in 2019. Now, it’s becoming a distinct possibility within the next month or two. After finishing the 2018 season in Double-A, Lux returned to the level to begin 2019 and hit .313 with 13 home runs in 64 games, earning a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City. If he continues his strong play in the PCL, Lux has a strong chance of helping with the big club at some point later this season. If you have deeper benches, I could think of worse things to do than stash Lux.
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) March 17, 2019
Nate Lowe (1B – TB): It’s time to get Nate Lowe back on your radar in 2019 re-draft leagues. Lowe has really heated up lately, hitting .340 over the last month with nine home runs including a trio of taters the other day. Expect him back up with Tampa Bay before the end of the month.
Keston Hiura (2B – MIL): KESTON HAS BEEN FREED! Sorry, I can’t seem to stop yelling when it comes to Hiura after recent events in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. I would like to thank you all for joining the #FreeKeston movement and for the Milwaukee Brewers for finally bringing the sweet-swinging hitting machine back up to the Majors. With his combination a plus hit tool and blossoming power, Hiura has the skills to be a top-10 fantasy second baseman the rest of the season. Sure, he’s striking out at a higher clip than he has before, but that’s not something I expect to hinder his batting average too much. A little maybe, but a batting average in the .280 range at season’s end sounds about right. Long-term, this is a .300-plus hitter.
Matt Thaiss (1B/3B – LAA): With Tommy La Stella out for the next 2-3 months, the Angels promoted corner infielder Matt Thaiss yesterday from Triple-A is what will be his first Major League stint. Thaiss was performing well in Triple-A, hitting .274 with 17 doubles, 14 home runs, and a .390 OBP in 79 games. If he’s able to get close to regular at-bats at the hot corner, there’s some decent AL-Only appeal here.
Jesus Luzardo (LHP – OAK): Well, this isn’t good. One of these days, we’re going to see Jesus Luzardo in the Major Leagues. It just won’t be as soon as we were hoping. Just four innings into Luzardo’s Tuesday night start for Triple-A Las Vegas with lat tightness. Now, tests are being run and a timetable has yet to be determined, but lat issues usually require at least a few weeks, if not longer. For re-draft leagues, it starting to look bleak that Luzardo makes an impact this season. Still, I’d be holding him until something concrete gets reported about the severity of the injury.
Lewis Thorpe (LHP – MIN): Like many, Lewis Thorpe has a bloated ERA this season in Triple-A. Nothing out of the ordinary there. However, once you look past that, there’s a lot to like. First, he has struck out well over a batter per inning with a solid 2.7 BB/9 as well. He’s been able to generate plenty whiffs with his plus fastball/curveball combination and improving changeup. Minnesota brought him up for a spot-start earlier this week and Thorpe was up to the task, allowing two runs over five innings with seven strikeouts. Now back down in Triple-A, Thorpe should be back up later this summer so keep him in the back of your mind for AL-Only leagues.
Corbin Martin (RHP – HOU): Elbow injury alert. What, another one? Yes, unfortunately. Martin is slated to get a 2nd opinion on his sore pitching elbow this week, and of course, 2nd opinions only happen when you don’t like what you heard the first time. The phrase “you’re going to be fine” doesn’t usually lead to seeking a 2nd opinion. After a solid MLB debut, Martin was highly inconsistent with the Astros and struggled upon his return to Triple-A as well. Now the elbow soreness has popped up, leading Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow to say, “I don’t think he’s going to be pitching any time soon.” Let’s keep our fingers crossed that surgery isn’t in the cards, but for now, it doesn’t look like he’s going to have a big impact this season, if he even gets back on the mound at all.
Prospect Spotlight: Jasson Dominguez, OF, New York Yankees
With another International J2 signing day in the books, I wanted to use this spot to put the spotlight on the top dog from this J2 crop, Jasson Dominguez. It’s not often that I consider ranking a 16-year-old international player inside my top-50 overall, but it took a lot of will power to keep myself from doing that here with Dominguez. Ultimately, I slotted him 57th, still a very lofty ranking for a player that hasn’t taken one single swing in the minor leagues. But of course, as I always do, I’m going to break down why I’m as high on Dominguez as I am.
— A.J. Herrmann (@AJHerrmannYES) July 2, 2019
As a switch hitter, Dominguez displays a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate with a clean swing mechanics. He starts with a slightly open stance, hands a little lower to start around chest high. Pitches are timed with a smaller leg kick and moderate hand coil back and slightly up before exploding through the zone with phenomenal bat speed from his quick wrists and strong hip rotation. The swing path is direct through the zone with some natural loft to it, allowing Dominguez to drive the ball to all fields with plus raw power.
As of now, this looks like a hitter capable of hitting for both power and a high batting average as well. To add to his prowess at the plate, Dominguez is a currently a plus runner, though, he’ll likely lose a little speed once he matures. With his advanced feel for hitting, bat to ball skills, and power/speed combination, Dominguez has the tools to develop into an offensive powerhouse down the road which is why I ranked him as highly as I did. He’s the unquestioned #1 international prospect for dynasty leagues this year in my opinion.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Kameron Misner, OF, Miami Marlins
If you’ve been following my work, you’ll know I’m incredibly high on Kameron Misner. He wiggled his way into my top-10 FYPD rankings for the 2019 draft and was a guy I traded up to get in a recent FYPD mock I was in. For starters, Misner is in the discussion for the top power/speed threat in the 2019 draft class. Over his three-year collegiate career at the University of Missouri, Misner combined for 31 doubles, 21 home runs, and 50 steals (in 63 attempts) with a .302/.425/.491/.916 slash line.
A lefty swinger, Misner starts with a wider stance with his weight balanced and hands shoulder high and slightly back. He uses a minimal leg kick which is more of an abbreviated toe tap at times and times that with a slight hand coil back before exploding through the zone with a slight uppercut swing path that generates plenty of loft. In addition, Misner has an incredibly strong lower half and not many can match his strong hip rotation and the torque he can create from that in his swing. While he didn’t hit for big power numbers at Mizzou, the tools are here for Misner to hit for 25-plus home runs annually.
— David Seifert (@DSeifertD1PBR) October 23, 2018
If that wasn’t enough, Misner shows plenty of athleticism for his size and is an above-average to plus runner on the bases with solid range in the outfield as well. He’s shown smarts on the bases with reading pitcher movements and was successful on 79.4% of his stolen base attempts in college. It wouldn’t shock me if Misner added 20-25 steals to that aforementioned power upside.
The one area that is going to determine if Misner can become an offensive star is his hit tool, a tool that has been questioned a little coming into the draft. While he’ll never be a .300 type of hitter, Misner has shown at least average bat to ball skills with a sound plate approach that has improved steadily over the last two years. From what I’ve seen, I’m projecting him to hit in the .270 range to go along with his enticing power/speed upside. Misner has all the tools to develop into one of the five best offensive players from this draft.
Prospect Stash Rankings
No, these aren’t rankings of what prospect have the best mustaches. These are the prospects currently in the minors that can make the biggest 2019 impact. This is a combination of ETA and potential 2019 impact.
- Luis Urias, 2B, SD | Last: 2
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 3
- Carter Kieboom, SS/2B, WAS | Last: 5
- Jake Fraley, OF, SEA | Last: 9
- Nate Lowe, 1B, TB | Last: 4
- Bo Bichette, 2B/SS, TOR | Last: NR
- Gavin Lux, 2B/SS, LAD | Last: NR
- Isan Diaz, 2B, MIA | Last: 10
- Monte Harrison, OF, MIA | Last: 6
- Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/3B, BAL | Last: 7
Called Up: Keston Hiura
- Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT | Last: 4
- Anthony Kay, LHP, NYM | Last: 6
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 7
- Matt Manning, RHP, DET | Last: 10
- Rico Garcia, RHP, COL | Last: NR
- Keegan Akin, LHP, BAL | Last: NR
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 2 (Left game with injury Tuesday night)
- Kolby Allard, LHP, ATL | Last: NR
- Dustin May, RHP, LAD | Last: NR
- Corbin Martin, RHP, HOU | Last: 5 (Getting 2nd opinion on elbow)
Photo/Video Credit: A.J. Herrmann, Emily Waldon, David Seifert, Chris Welsh, Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire, Pitcher List, Lance Brozdowski.
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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