Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Beast Mode Continues for Jo Adell
Time is a funny thing. Some days drag on to the point where you look at the clock thinking it’s 3 pm and it’s not even lunchtime yet. Other days speed by and you’re running around trying to get everything accomplished while not losing your mind at the same time. The latter has been a good example of how this 2019 minor league campaign has gone. Every time I write this report we have a new batch of prospects called up that we need to discuss and this week was no different. And to add to all the promotion excitement, we have several high-upside prospects returning to action, led by the top power/speed threat in all the land, Jo Adell.
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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report
Jo Adell Returns to Action
Welcome back Jo Adell! I’m sure I’m not the only one that feared the worst when he injured his leg back in early March during a Cactus League game. The words “Done for the season” flashed through my brain after I first saw the injury. I tried to push them out of my mind, but was unsuccessful. Luckily, it was just a Grade 1 left hamstring strain and a Grade 2 right ankle sprain which kept Adell out of action for around 10 weeks which was the early end of the original 10-12 week diagnosis. He picked up right where he left off last season with three multi-hit games in his first four games back and two home runs.
Words can’t describe how glad I am to have Jo Adell back in action. Once Vlad, Tatis, and company exhaust their prospect status, Adell is likely going to be my #2 overall prospect in baseball behind Wander Franco. His immense all-around offensive upside is a major reason for that. In 151 career minor league games, Adell has slashed .304/.361/.545/.907 with 83 extra-base hits, 27 home runs, 23 steals (in 28 attempts), 112 RBI, and 128 runs scored. I’ll pause for a second so you can clean up your drool.
Jo Adell’s bat makes some loud noises. pic.twitter.com/DOkCCGerIK
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) February 18, 2019
Coming into the 2017 MLB draft, Adell was known for his power and speed prowess, but his hit tool was questioned by evaluators. The 18-year-old Adell heard those criticisms, told the doubters to hold his
beer non-alcoholic beverage, and done nothing but rake ever since. With the exception of a .238 average in a 17-game Double-A stint last season, Adell has hit .288 or higher at ever level. And you really can’t put much stock into a 19-year-old struggling in his first taste of Double-A ball as one of the youngest at the level. Sure, he’s likely never going to contend for batting titles, but Adell’s improvements at the plate should allow him to continue hit in the vicinity of .300 moving forward.
While Franco might be my new #1 prospect, Adell is right on his heels and possesses the best power/speed profile out of any prospect in the minors. His upside is as high as anyone. So again, nice to have you back Jo.
Jarred Kelenic Still Awesome, Now in High-A
The South Atlantic League has proven to be no match for the mighty Jarred Kelenic. After tearing up the SALLY with a .304/.394/.558/.952 slash line, 25 extra-base hits, nine home runs, and seven steals in 181 at-bats, Kelenic has been promoted to High-A California League. He’ll probably dominate this level too, he’s that damn good. Remember how I said no prospect has the same power/speed profile as Jo Adell? How could you forget, you read it like 20 seconds ago? Well, Kelenic is close, albeit, with more emphasis on the speed end.
— Brent Hershey (@BrentHQ) May 2, 2019
When I first began getting myself acquainted with the 2018 draft class, Kelenic immediately stood out to me. The prep outfielder from Wisconsin caught my attention with an easy plus hit tool, plus speed, power projection, and arguably the best looking swing in the class. All of that has been put on full display in the minors over the last 111 months and his power has progressed quicker than I anticipated.
With legit .300/25/30 upside, Kelenic is a bonafide top-10 overall dynasty prospect and one of the most exciting prospects to watch right now.
Singer Gator Chomping the Competition
Okay, that headline wasn’t my best work, but have you ever done the Florida Gator chomp? It’s hella fun. Did I just say hella? Oh jeez. Let’s just talk about Brady Singer before I fully lose my mind. After being in the conversation for the #1 overall pick last June, Singer slipped down to pick #18 where the Kansas City Royals were more than happy to scoop him up. The Royals gave him an above-value bonus for that slot and then proceeded to hold him out of action to limit his workload after his final collegiate season at the University of Florida.
It doesn’t seem like the time off caused any rust as Singer has come out of the gates on fire in 2019. Through his first 10 starts in the High-A Carolina League, Singer compiled a 1.87 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and 8.3 K/9 in 57.2 innings of work. That was all the Royals needed to see to give him the bump up to the Double-A Texas League.
Singer’s bread and butter offerings are his plus fastball and slider. He’ll operate in the low to mid-90’s with his four-seamer and will turn it over into a two-seamer with strong sinking action. His slider is equally as impressive in the low-80’s with sharp two-plane break. While the changeup is behind, Singer has shown improvements with the pitch and has flashed above-average potential with solid fade and tumble.
Some still worry that his lower arm slot will cause problems and force a move to the bullpen someday. But for now, Singer projects as a starter and a damn good one at that. If he can continue to develop his changeup, Singer has #2 starter upside.
Nate Pearson Dominating
After my live looks at Casey Mize and Matt Manning early last week, I made the trip up to Manchester, NH to watch Nate Pearson’s start this past Saturday. So far this season, the Blue Jays have been limiting Pearson’s workload by having him alternate between five and two-inning starts. Unfortunately, this was his two-inning start, but it was still good to get some live looks in at Pearson nonetheless.
Nate Pearson has dominated the Double-A Eastern League this season.
Season: 10 GS, 34.0 IP, 1.32 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 5.6 H/9, 1.6 BB/9, 13.8 K/9
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) May 27, 2019
In his two innings, Pearson threw 28 pitches and was sitting 96-99 regularly with his fastball, cracking triple-digits once with a 101 mph heater. He only mixed in a handful of secondary offerings but threw one sharp slider that had a ton of late life on it. That slider is Pearson’s best secondary offering and grades as plus when he’s commanding it well. Both the curveball and changeup are behind, but Pearson has flashed an above-average changeup at times.
Like with Manning, who I saw last Tuesday, improved command has been a big reason for Pearson’s dominance this season. The Blue Jays are sure to continue to limit his workload this season, but we likely will see him up in Triple-A later this season with a mid-2020 MLB promotion in the cards. If he can continue to develop his changeup and overall command, Pearson has ace upside written all over him.
Recent MLB Promotions
We’re not even into June yet and we’ve already had three big waves of prospect promotions with the third happening late last week and into the weekend.
Cavan Biggio, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Out of the handful of guys called up over the last week, Cavan Biggio is the one I’d want the most for the rest of the season. While he might not be quite on the same level as the Hiuras and Rileys of the world, Biggio brings a solid mix of tools that can help you out across the board. The first thing everyone looks at is the power/speed mix. Biggio joined the 20/20 club last season and was nearly on that same pace this season with six homers and five steals. With an improved hit tool, rock-solid plate approach, and the power/speed blend, Biggio makes for an intriguing ROS investment.
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Allowing six runs in your first Major League inning isn’t exactly ideal, but that just serves as a reminder that not all prospects succeed right off the bat, especially pitching prospects. If you take out Keller’s first inning, he actually pitched quite well and really settled in after that disastrous first inning. Still, the overall line wasn’t pretty and I’m sure many dropped him as quickly as they picked him up, especially after he was demoted back down to Triple-A. We’re talking about one of the top-20 pitching prospects in the minors here and the Pirates rotation isn’t exactly a masterpiece right now. Keller will be back.
Kevin Cron, 1B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Out of all the recent promotions, Cron is the most interesting. He was tearing up the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League at Yordan Alvarez levels with a .339/.437/.800/1.237 slash line, 34 extra-base hits, and 21 home runs in 44 games. I don’t care if the balls are juiced and it’s a hitter-friendly league, that’s impressive. What has really helped Cron transform into a solid hitter and not just a power threat is his improved approach at the plate. He’s raised his walk rate and trimmed his strikeout rate, both to career-best levels.
Now the only question is how often will he play? As of now, he’s a bench bat. But remember, Christian Walker hasn’t been productive in over a month and is in danger of losing playing time. If you can afford to stash Cron, I would be doing so as he’s likely to get a shot at regular playing time before too long.
Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres
This is a callup I wasn’t overly excited about. Sure, Naylor has displayed an above-average hit tool and plus raw power throughout his minor league career, but that raw power hasn’t translated into plus game power quite yet. There’s also no place for him to play. Eric Hosmer is making too much money to ride the pine and San Diego already has a glutton of outfielders vying for playing time as it is. Naylor was called up to be a DH during San Diego’s six-game stint in American League parks, but will likely be back down in Triple-A soon. The long-term outlook is fairly bright, but there’s just not a ton of opportunity to carve out value in 2019.
Will Smith (C – LAD)
With Austin Barnes hitting the IL, the Dodgers called up one of their top catching prospects, Will Smith, to get jiggy with it behind the plate in Los Angeles. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Smith is an athletic catcher with above-average raw power and an improving hit tool. He can even run a little bit which is always welcomed from your catcher. It remains to be seen if he stays up after Barnes returns, but Smith has enough upside to add in deeper mixed leagues to see how it plays out. If he’s back in Triple-A after Barnes return, you drop him for the next catcher on the waiver wire. No big deal.
Other Prospect Notes
Alex Reyes (RHP – STL): Okay, he’s not technically a prospect, but doesn’t it still feel like he is? A little over a month ago, Reyes punched a wall, hurt his hand, and was sent down to Florida to get his head right. If there’s any silver lining in the situation, at least it was his non-pitching hand. He returned to minor league action on 5/23 and made his second start last night. Combined in the two outings, Reyes has thrown 9.1 innings allowing nine hits, two earned runs, and three walks while striking out 11. The upside here is still through the roof, and with him likely back up with the Cardinals before the all-star break, the time is drawing near to stash him if you’re able to.
Heliot Ramos (OF – SF): Heliot Ramos returned to action on Memorial Day after missing the last month with a knee injury. The 2018 season was a rough one for Ramos, hitting just .245 with 11 home runs, but we have to remember that he was one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. He was off to a better start this season too before the injury. There’s still some intriguing upside here with Ramos which makes him a solid buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues.
Brendan McKay (LHP/DH – TB): Last week’s prospects report featured McKay from a long-term outlook, but now it’s time to talk about McKay for 2019 purposes. Why? Well, he was just promoted to Triple-A Durham and made his first start at the level last night pitching five shutout innings. To be honest, I didn’t expect McKay up this season. Now, that’s looking more likely with his early-season domination and recent promotion to Triple-A. If you can afford to stash him, I’d start thinking about doing so.
Zach Plesac (RHP – CLE): In a less-heralded promotion, the Indians called up Zach Plesac for his MLB debut last night. Facing a tough Boston lineup, Plesac pitched 5.1 innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out a pair. Plesac will sit in the low-90’s with his fastball, occasionally getting as high as 95-96, but hasn’t developed any of his secondary offerings into weapons. There’s some value here in AL-Only leagues and deeper mixed leagues, but don’t go crazy as the upside with Plesac is an innings-eating workhorse in the back of a rotation.
Prospect Spotlight: Wander Javier, SS, Minnesota Twins
Keeping with this returning from injury theme we have going on, Wander Javier is back in action after what seemed like a ten-year absence. The last time we saw Javier in game action was as an 18-year-old way back in 2017 in the Appalachian League. That was a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Vladimir Guerrero Jr was still a mere moral hitting a boring .323 in Single-A. Now 20, Javier is back and has been assigned to the Single-A Midwest League.
Since there’s not a lot of game tape on Javier, we need to go off his raw tools, which are impressive, to say the least. Let’s start with the hit tool. That’s always a good place to start. Before the injury, Javier displayed above-average to plus contact skills, with fairly clean swing mechanics and phenomenal bat speed. His feel for the barrel and using the entire field was impressive for a hitter his age and hopefully can continue after the long layoff.
— Chris Kleinhans-Schulz (@TheKleinhans) May 25, 2019
The hit tool is currently Javier’s carrying tool, but there’s some intriguing power and speed upside here as well. Javier possesses above-average raw power, but will need to add strength and loft to his swing to fully capitalize on that. He’s still just 20, so there’s plenty of time for that to happen. Add in 20-steal upside and you have the potential for a dynamic offensive shortstop down the road. Right now, it’s all about getting back in the swing of things in Single-A for Javier.
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.
- Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU | Last: 1
- Nate Lowe, 1B, TB | Last: 2
- Carter Kieboom, SS/2B, WAS | Last: 3
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 4
- Luis Urias, 2B, SD | Last: 6
- Monte Harrison, OF, MIA | Last: 7
- Ryan Mountcastle, SS, BAL | Last: 9
- Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK | Last: NR
- Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE | Last: NR
- Bo Bichette, SS, TOR | Last: 10
- Zac Gallen, RHP, MIA | Last: 2
- Brendan McKay, LHP, TB | Last: 7
- Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW | Last: 1
- Logan Allen, LHP, SD | Last: 4
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 6
- Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU | Last: 5
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 8
- Anthony Kay, LHP, NYM | Last: NR
- Casey Mize, RHP, DET | Last: 9
- Matt Manning, RHP, DET | Last: 10
For more on Jo Adell and other top prospects please check out our full archive of Prospect based content.
Photo/Video Credit: Fabian Ardaya, Chris Kleinhans-Shulz, Brent Hershey, Robert Robinson.
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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