Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Atlanta Brothers of Destruction
There wasn’t one dominant news story in the minors over the last week, but we still have an overflowing prospects report for you. The MLB draft started on Monday night and we have Rookie Leagues ramping up as well. On top of that, a pair of outfield prospects currently in Mississippi are making noise and approaching top-20 overall status while an outfield prospect in Arizona in quickly rising up ranks after being drafted last June.
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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report- MLB Draft Notes, Atlanta Outfielders
Atlanta Brothers of Destruction
Man, this title brings back memories from my youth watching WWF/WWE. For those that didn’t watch wrestling, “Brothers of Destruction” was the name given to the tag team of the Undertaker and Kane in the 90’s who were portrayed as brothers that just destroyed everything and everyone in their path. They weren’t actually brothers and neither are Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, but the idea is the same. Here is how the Atlanta duo is fairing so far at Double-A Mississippi in the Southern League:
- Cristian Pache (Age 20): .294/.344/.485/.829, 24 XBH, 5 HR, 6 SB, 204 AB
- Drew Waters (Age 20): .308/.352/.476/.828, 23 XBH, 3 HR, 9 SB, 227 AB
Now, those numbers don’t stand out like the numbers Yordan Alvarez or Austin Riley put up this season. However, that’s not what Waters and Pache are all about. Neither one is likely ever to become huge power threats but their across the board upside is what has them ascending prospect rankings, including my own. Both are on the cusp of cracking my top-20, but each has their own area (or two) to work on.
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) March 10, 2019
For Pache, it’s all about his power and speed. The contact skills have been consistent throughout his minor league career while the power and speed have not. Sure, Pache stole 32 bases in 2017, but also got caught 14 times and was caught (8) more times than he was successful (7) last season. That trend has continued this season with a 50% success rate through his first 12 stolen base attempts. The speed is there, but Pache will need to improve his pitcher reads and selectiveness on when to steal or he’s not going to be given the green light very often.
In addition, Pache’s groundball tendencies have limited his game power so far. There’s plenty of additional power projection here and it might just take a small mechanical/approach adjustment to unlock it. Pache is heading in the right direction as his groundball rate has dropped and his flyball rate has risen in 2019.
When it comes to Waters, it’s the approach. Like with Pache, the contact skills are there, but Waters is has become allergic to walks since the start of 2018 and has seen his strikeout rate rise from 21.1% to 30.4% this season. That 30.4% strikeout rare has come with just a 5.4% walk rate. Hitting over .300 with a strikeout rate about 20% is no easy feat and isn’t likely to continue. Waters will need to get that strikeout rate back down to pre-2019 levels or risk being exposed by more advanced pitching in Triple-A and the Majors.
To end this rant, both Waters and Pache are prospects I’m trying to get as much dynasty stock in as I can. Their raw tools and across the board potential make them two very desirable dynasty targets. If someone in your league is tired of waiting on bigger numbers from Pache, now is a good time to pounce. There’s more coming.
2019 MLB Draft Notes
For my full 2019 FYPD/INTL rankings, check out my top-50 article that went live yesterday morning. I’ll be adding to this and tweaking over the upcoming months. But for now, here are some notes from this year’s MLB draft.
The Top Dogs
There is a locked-in top-3 this year for me in Andrew Vaughn, Adley Rutschman, and Bobby Witt Jr. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with any of the three as the 1.1 in your dynasty league’s FYPD. Me? Vaughn gets the slight edge for me as he’s the best combination of hit tool and power in this year’s draft, in my opinion. Rutschman is right there with him and should not be dropped down just because he’s a catcher. The guy can flat out mash. Witt’s upside comes more from his power and speed, but there are questions surrounding his hit tool. If he can improve at the plate, he might just have the highest upside of the three as he’s the only one that brings speed to the table.
Speaking of power/speed threats, there are a few more that stand out. First we have Hunter Bishop from Arizona State. The Giants took him 10th overall and he instantly becomes one of their top prospects right behind Joey Bart and Marcos Luciano. In my initial 2019 FYPD ranks, Bishop ranked 5th, right between Riley Greene and J.J. Bleday, two very highly regarded hitters. The hit tool could use some refinement, but the huge power/speed combination gives him one of the highest upsides in this year’s class.
Further down the list is Kamerson Misner. After taking J.J. Bleday 4th overall, Miami went back to the collegiate outfield ranks, snagging Misner 35th overall out of Missouri. To be honest, I don’t know how Misner slipped to pick 35. With easy plus raw power, plus speed, and at least an average hit tool, Misner has the upside to be a big offensive performer that is also above-average defensively. If you have a pick in the back-end on the top-10 in your FIPD, I’d strongly be considering taking Misner.
High Upside Arms
While there wasn’t any Casey Mize type arms in the 2019 draft, there were still several high upside arms that bring plenty of intrigue. First and foremost is Daniel Espino from the Georgia Premier Academy. With an electric heater and two plus breaking balls, Espino has incredibly high upside is he can develop his changeup and fine-tune his command. If you’re looking to grab the highest-upside pitcher this year, Espino gets my vote.
Outside of him, Matthew Allan, Brennan Malone, and Jackson Rutledge all possess exciting upside. Rutledge is in the conversation for best pure stuff in the draft, but has struggled to consistently command his arsenal and develop his changeup. Allan features three plus pitches and above-average command, but slipped to the 3rd round which might signal some signability concerns for the prep right-hander. With a plus fastball/slider combination, Malone has the upside to miss bats right away, but like most, the changeup needs some work.
Other Prospect Notes
Adam Haseley (OF – PHI): After a brief Triple-A stint, the Phillies have called up Adam Haseley after Andrew McCutchen left Monday night’s game with a knee injury which was later confirmed as a torn-ACL. Haseley fits into that dreaded “better in real life than fantasy” category that no one likes to see. He’s a solid hitter with above-average contact skills, but his power and speed are likely only going to be in the teens at peak. For dynasty, he’s a safe long-term option that can be a 3rd or 4th outfielder on your squad. But for 2019, I’d only look at him in NL-Only leagues as there’s still Bryce Harper, Scott Kingery, and newly acquired Jay Bruce in this Philadelphia outfield as well.
Forrest Whitley (RHP – HOU): Well, we should’ve seen this coming. To say Forrest Whitley has looked bad this season is basically the understatement of the century. His ERA, WHIP, H/9, HR/9, BB/9, BAA, and every other stat you can think of are more bloated than Joey Chestnut after downing 70 hot dogs and buns on the 4th of July. Now, Whitley has been placed on the IL with shoulder fatigue. You gotta wonder if it’s something more than this, too. Regardless, it doesn’t appear that Whitley will be making his MLB debut any time soon and the chances of him making an impact at the MLB level at all in 2019 are dwindling.
Jo Adell (OF – LAA): After a brief stint in high-A, Jo Adell has been bumped back up to Double-A Mobile where he ended the 2018 season. Adell went 7/25 with two home runs in his six games in the California League (A+). There’s still an outside chance we see him with the Angels later in the season, but Adell would have to be raking and the Angels in playoff contention for that to happen. I have faith in Adell raking, but not so much the Angels contending.
Keston Hiura (2B – MIL): If you follow me, you probably saw my Keston Hiura rant the other day on Twitter. If you didn’t it’s below and my opinion has not and will not change on the matter. If you added Hiura in re-draft leagues, I urge you to hang tight and take a look at the paltry batting averages of Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw.
The Brewers sending Keston Hiura back to Triple-A is moronic on so many levels. Just make Shaw a damn utility infielder or stick Aguilar on the bench permanently where he belongs. Hiura was hitting for both average and power. I don't care that he has options.
SO. MUCH. RAGE
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) June 3, 2019
Alex Kirilloff (1B – MIN): Barely a month after returning to action, Alex Kirilloff is back on the IL with an “undisclosed ailment.” Whatever this ailment is, it sounds like he’ll only require a short stint on the IL this time around.
Jarren Duran (OF – BOS): Not many hitters in the low minors were hotter to start the 2019 season than Jarren Duran. In fact, not many prospect hitters in general, regardless of level, have been hotter than Duran. The speedy outfield prospect slashed .387/.456/.543/.998 with 20 extra-base hits, four homers, and 18 steals in 50 Carolina League games after hitting a combined .357 in the NYPL and SALLY in 2018.
I’m going to see Duran this weekend live in Portland, Maine and will provide some live looks in next weeks report. It’s going to be interesting to see if he can continue this success in the upper levels of the minors. So far, his above-average to plus hit tool and electric speed have been too much for Single-A. This should be a good test for Duran.
Myles Straw (OF – HOU): When discussing the top prospect speed threats, Myles Straw’s name has to be included in the conversation. In 2018, Straw swiped 70 bases in 79 attempts and has racked up 57.4 steals per every 600 at-bats in his minor league career with a nifty 80.3% success rate. He has literally no power to speak of but the speed alone can be an asset and Straw has shown he can hit for some average as well. He might never be more than a Jarrod Dyson type, but Straw is worth a look in deeper mixed leagues and AL-Only Leagues right now while he’s getting some run (pun intended) with Houston.
Estevan Florial (OF – NYY): After missing the first two months of the season with with a non-displaced right wrist fracture, Estevan Florial returned to action this week. The Yankees top position prospect wasted zero time announcing his return going 4/8 with a double and a home run in his first two games back. His power/speed upside makes him one of the most intriguing outfield prospects in baseball and that left-handed power he has should play very well in Yankee Stadium. Florial will likely be up in Double-A soon with a 2020 MLB debut likely.
Jose Suarez (LHP – LAA): The Angels called up Jose Suarez for a spot start over the weekend and then immediately sent him back down to Triple-A afterwards. The 21-year-old Venezuelan southpaw held his own in his Major League debut, allowing three runs over 5.2 innings of work. The upside here isn’t very high, but with a above-average to plus fastball, plus changeup, and serviceable curveball, Suarez has the upside of a mid-rotation starter and should be back up with the Angels at some point this summer.
Prospect Spotlight: Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Every year there are select players outside of the consensus elite options in each draft that really catch my attention for one reason or another. Last season, one of those players was Alek Thomas, a prep outfielder from Chicago that Arizona drafted in the 2nd round (63rd overall) of the 2018 amateur draft.
Thomas instantly became one of my favorite guys in the draft and slotted within the top-20 of my 2018 FYPD rankings. He’s done nothing but impress me even more during his time in the minors. In 104 games (426 AB), Thomas has slashed .324/.395/.477/.871 with 41 extra-base hits, seven homers, 17 steals, and a 10.1% walk rate.
— Prep Baseball Report (@prepbaseball) June 5, 2018
Three aspects of Thomas’ game caught my attention from the get-go. First, this kid is a pure hitter. The swing is so easy and fluid with a clean swing path. Quick wrists generate a ton of bat speed and Thomas is able to spray the ball all over the field. His high batting average so far is no surprise to me, and frankly, it’s what I expected him to do. On top of that, Thomas has a very advanced plate approach for a player his age and is able to work a walk when needed.
This type of hit tool and plate approach, coupled with his plus speed, make Thomas a bonafide future leadoff option in my eyes. There’s not a ton of power projection here, but with his contact skills and bat speed, Thomas should be able to reach double-digit home runs annually with his peak likely being in the 15-18 range. But when that comes with a potential .300 average, .400 OBP, and 25-30 steals, the overall package looks pretty damn good. Grab some Thomas dynasty stock while the price is still reasonable.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Sam Huff, C, Texas Rangers
In the middle of all the top prospects mashing to begin the season, a catching prospect in Single-A has been quietly keeping pace with them without much, if any fanfare. Through his first 200 at-bats this season, Sam Huff has mashed 13 doubles and 19 home runs with a .340/.382/.700/1.082 slash line. That looks great and all, but what doesn’t look as rosy is his 61/10 K/BB ratio. Huff has always had easy plus raw power, but the overall hit tool still needs plenty of development. There’s a good chance that he’ll never be a guy that hits for a high average, but the power is for real and could make him a 25+ HR hitter if he ever receives regular at-bats in the Major Leagues down the road.
Drafted in the 7th round back in 2016, Huff is a catcher by trade with a strong arm, but is rough defensively and is still improving his receiving skills. He’s also played some first base sporadically as well and might need to move out there eventually if the defense behind the plate doesn’t develop. Since he’s in an AL system, the Rangers could also make him a DH where his power bat would fit just fine. As of now, I’d project him as a .240 type of hitter with a low OBP and 25-30 home runs. If he can remain behind the plate the ceiling could be something along the lines of a Yasmani Grandal/Mike Zunino hybrid.
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
- Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL | Last: MLB (#FreeKeston)
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 4
- Nate Lowe, 1B, TB | Last: 2
- Carter Kieboom, SS/2B, WAS | Last: 3
- Luis Urias, 2B, SD | Last: 5
- Monte Harrison, OF, MIA | Last: 6
- Ryan Mountcastle, SS, BAL | Last: 7
- Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK | Last: 8
- Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE | Last: 9
- Zac Gallen, RHP, MIA | Last: 1
- Brendan McKay, LHP, TB | Last: 2
- Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT | Last: MLB
- Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW | Last: 3
- Logan Allen, LHP, SD | Last: 4
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 5
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 7
- Anthony Kay, LHP, NYM | Last: 8
- Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU | Last: 6 (I’m getting REALLY close to taking him out here)
- Casey Mize, RHP, DET | Last: 9
Called Up: Mike Shawaryn
Photo/Video Credit: John Adams/Icon Sportswire, Prep Baseball Report, Grant McAuley
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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