Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Funky Fresh Fraley
It’s hard to believe that we’re already approaching the end of June. Where has the time gone? While that question never seems to produce a good answer, there’s a ton of action and movement going on in the minor leagues right now. We have all the short-season leagues in full swing now with some 2019 draftees beginning to debut and some top prospects in the upper minors are starting to put themselves on the re-draft radar. I’m going to put out a full article/list of prospects to stash for September in the next week or so, but wanted to talk about a few today that have been absolutely mashing in the upper minors. These guys are elite household names like Jo Adell, but there’s another prospect that was recently promoted to Triple-A that deserves your attention as well. He’s profiled below in this week’s prospect spotlight.
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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report- Wander Franco Promoted to High-A
Another level conquered for the 18-year-old phenom. He just makes it look so damn easy. After annihilating the Appalachian League in 2018, Franco continued his destruction in the Single-A Midwest League this season. In 62 games, Franco slashed .318/.390/.506/.896 with 27 extra-base hits, six home runs, and 14 steals, though, he did get caught nine times. What’s even more impressive than that offensive stat line is the fact that Franco continues to walk more than he strikes out with an 11.0% walk rate and 7.4% strikeout rate.
A 7.4% strikeout rate is freaking sexy. Sorry for being blunt, but it’s true. The kid sneezes at striking out. He’s too good for that. It’s beneath him. It’s one thing for a contact-oriented slap hitter to have a sub-10% strikeout rate, but it’s a whole different animal for a hitter with Franco’s power to be this low.
As I was writing this section, I checked out the Charlotte/Fort Myers box score to see how Franco did in his first high-A game. It was just another quiet 2/3 game with a walk and a steal for the 18-year-old phenom. Ho hum. Assuming Franco continues his utter onslaught on minor league pitching, there’s a chance we could see him up in Double-A before the end of the season.
Deivi Garcia Mowing Down the Competition
You know the old saying, “You can’t spell strikeout with Deivi.” While that might be inaccurate on the surface, you could’ve fooled me with how Deivi Garcia is mowing down hitters this season. Starting at High-A Tampa, Garcia struck out 33 in 17.2 innings for a majestic 16.8 K/9. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate has dropped DRAMATICALLY down to 14.6 through his first nine starts with Double-A Trenton. Disappointing, I know. Throw it all together and Garcia has racked up 109 strikeouts in 64.2 innings for a 15.2 K/9. He’s been on his game all season, especially in his last two outings where he’s struck out 24 in 11 shutout innings, allowing just one hit and two walks.
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) June 25, 2019
Despite his smaller 5’9 frame, Garcia’s exceptional arm speed still allows him to crank his fastball up into the low to mid-90s with arm side life. Offsetting that is one of the top curveballs in the minor leagues, a true 12-6 hammer with a very high spin rate. His changeup isn’t quite as dynamic as the FB/CB combination but has flashed above-average or better with some fade. If Garcia can continue to refine his fastball command and limit the free passes as well, there’s big upside here as a high-K #2 starter.
Time to Stash Jo Adell, Luis Robert, & Bo Bichette in Re-Draft Leagues?
This trio that I’ve nicknamed “Jo-Ro-Bo” has bee scorching hot as of late and are creeping into re-draft stash consideration.
If you asked me a month or so ago, I would’ve said that the chances we saw Luis Robert and Jo Adell in the Majors this season was slim to none. Now, I’m still saying it’s less than 30-40% probable for each, but with how they’re performing at Double-A, we at least have to entertain the idea.
- Jo Adell (87 AB): .368/.433/.655/1.088, 10 2B, 5 HR, 4 SB, 7.2 BB%, 20.6 K%
- Luis Robert (261 AB): .356/.404/.648/1.052, 19 2B, 6 3B, 15 HR, 22 SB, 4.9 BB%, 23.0 K%
If I had to bet money on one coming up over the other, it’s Adell. He got off to the late start due to a knee injury, but as you can see above, has demolished minor league pitching since his return and has trimmed his strikeout rate as well. It would really help his cause if the Angels can remain in playoff contention. They’re still in a big cluster of teams vying for those two wild card spots, but have dropped a few games further back of late and currently sit 5.5 games back of the 2nd spot.
If either Adell or Robert comes up in September, they would be the type of additions you use your #1 waiver on or blow whatever you have remaining for FAAB. If you have deep benches where a spot or two is occupied by basically nothing, adding one of these phenoms wouldn’t be a bad idea. You know, just in case.
As for Bichette, it’s sounding like we could see him this season as well, and maybe even earlier than anticipated according to Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins.
“We’d really like to see some time in triple-A and have him get his legs under him and have a good strong foundation before we have that discussion.”
You can take that statement any way you want to, but it does make you wonder if Bichette graces us with his presence before September. Then again, the Blue Jays pulled the service time card with Vladimir Guerrero Jr last season and into April of this season, so part of me still thinks they might do the same with Bo. Regardless, the time is now to stash Bichette in mixed leagues with deeper benches.
After a recent hot stretch, Bichette’s season line is now up to .321/.397/.509/.906 with nine doubles, three home runs, and eight steals in 106 at-bats.
Other Prospect Notes
Nolan Gorman (3B – STL): See, I told you all Nolan Gorman was just being a good guy and taking it easy on Single-A pitching over his recent slump. The Cardinals rewarded the slugger’s generosity with a promotion up to the High-A Florida State League where he cranked his first home run at the level last night in his 4th game. It wouldn’t shock me if Gorman got a cup of coffee at Double-A before the season is through if he hits well in the FSL.
Bobby Bradley (1B – CLE): The biggest hitting prospect promotion from the last week happened in the city formerly known as LeBron-ville, AKA Cleveland, Ohio. The name Bobby Bradley doesn’t quite instill the same excitement in us as other hitters that have come up this season, but there’s some nice value to be had here in both re-draft and dynasty leagues due to his immense power potential. In his 67 Triple-A games, Bradley cranked 24 homers and added 17 doubles while hitting .292. The average was his highest mark since a 39-game Arizona Rookie League stint back in 2014.
The power is very much for real, but there’s plenty of swing and miss to Bradley’s game (32.0% K rate in AAA) and his contact skills are below average. If you add Bradley expecting a high average to go along with his power, you’re likely going to be disappointed. However, if Bradley can just keep his average in the vicinity of .250, he’ll be able to provide some decent value this season and beyond.
Riley Greene (OF – DET): Can you think of any better way to start your professional career than going 4/5 with a double and two home runs? Don’t get smart with me and say “yeah, hitting three home runs” either. There was a discernable top-3 players from this draft in Andrew Vaughn, Adley Rutschman, and Bobby Witt Jr, but Riley Greene was right there behind them as my #4 ranked player for first-year player drafts. Greene is arguably the top pure hitter in this draft with a beautiful swing and above-average to plus raw power.
Michel Baez (RHP – SD): In case you didn’t notice, one of the top San Diego pitching prospects has been pitching exclusively out of the bullpen this season for Double-A Armarillo. In nine appearances, Michel Baez has recorded a 2.76 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 24/6 K/BB ratio in 16.2 innings. Due to his below-average command and control, a future in the bullpen has always been a possibility for Baez, and now that transition might be happening. I’m not shutting the proverbial door or Baez as a starter yet, but the uncertainty around his future role does put a damper on his dynasty league value and has caused him to slide down my overall prospect rankings. Even if his future is in the pen, Baez has the stuff to excel in a late-inning, high-leverage role.
Mason Denaburg (RHP – WAS): I’ve said many times before that this Nationals farm system is one of the worst in baseball, right there with the Milwaukee Brewers. However, one prospect I’m quite high on is Mason Denaburg who just made his professional debut Monday night. Denaburg fired four shutout innings allowing three hits and two walks while striking out five. Not a bad start to your pro career. With two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball and a changeup that flashes above-average, Denaburg has the highest pitching upside in the Nationals system and could enter top-100 overall consideration within the next 12 months. I’d recommend grabbing some Denaburg dynasty stock now while the price is still low.
Tony Gonsolin (RHP – LAD): Due to some injuries in the rotation, Tony Gonsolin has gotten the call to make his MLB debut today. There’s not much 2019 appeal here as this likely is just a spot start, but Gonsolin’s long-term outlook is bright as a #3 type starter with a solid fastball/curveball/splitter/mustache combination. He had a 2.77 ERA. 1.27 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9 through eight Triple-A starts this season but has struggled to consistently command his arsenal.
Kyle Wright (RHP – ATL): The Braves recalled Kyle Wright earlier this week and plan to use him in a long relief role moving forward. Wright has not been overly effective this season at either Triple-A or with the Braves, and while his future outlook is still rather bright, he can be left on the waiver wire in 2019 re-draft leagues.
Brent Rooker (OF – MIN): Rooker has been one of the hottest hitters in the minors over the last month with a .359/.523/.641/1.164 slash line, seven doubles, five home runs, and a 19.6% walk rate. He still strikes out way too much and Minnesota doesn’t really need him right now, but he’s one to keep an eye on in case a spot opens up with the Twins.
Prospect Spotlight: Jake Fraley, OF, Seattle Mariners
While everyone and their grandmother clamor over Jared Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez, another Mariners outfielder has been shredding his way through the upper minors and will beat both of them to Seattle. After hitting .313 with 11 home runs and 13 steals in Double-A, the Mariners gave Jake Fraley a much-deserved bump to Triple-A where he’s gone 5/21 with a double, triple, and homer in his first five games.
Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Mike Zunino/Mallex Smith swap, Fraley’s prospect stock began rising after a breakout season in 2018 when he slashed .347/.415/.547/.962 with 30 extra-base hits, four home runs, and 11 steals in 66 games. This after two seasons in 2016-2017 where his combined average was only .228.
#Mariners No. 14 prospect Jake Fraley, acquired from the #Rays in the Mike Zunino deal, hit 4 homers in 225 ABs for the @StoneCrabs last year. He now has 2 in 15 #SpringTraining ABs and is hitting .400. Gameday/watch live: https://t.co/8435qCRhsA pic.twitter.com/4rkPo5Rb0B
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 5, 2019
It took a little bit longer than expected for Fraley to hit his stride in the minors, but over the last year and a half, he’s put the tools that made him a 2nd round pick on full display. On top of playing solid defense in the outfield, Fraley possesses plus speed with an above-average hit tool and sneaky-good raw power. That power has been much more prominent this year than in years past. Fraley has cut down his groundball rate by around 8% and has been hitting the ball more in the air to his pull side. The result has been a near 30-homer pace this season after just a 10-homer pace in 2018.
With his improvements over the last year and a half, Fraley has cemented himself as a top-100 dynasty prospect and one that could help in re-draft leagues later this season as well. This is one of my top targets in dynasty leagues due to his enticing offensive tools and proximity to the Majors.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Brennan Davis/Cole Roederer, OF, Chicago Cubs
Two prospects in this section this week! I’ve gone over Brennen Davis a little bit previously, but wanted to feature him again here, along with his fellow Cubs outfield prospect Cole Roederer. This Cubs system has been depleted over the last few seasons thanks to MLB promotions and trade, like the one sending Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the White Sox for Jose Quintana. And while the farm system as a whole is still one of the worst in baseball, Davis and Roeder at least provide some hope on the offensive side of things moving forward.
Both men were drafted last June in the 2nd round with Davis coming off the board at pick 62 and Roederer 15 picks later. They currently slot in as my #2 and #3 prospects respectively in the Cubs system after fellow 2018 draftee, Nico Hoerner. From a fantasy perspective, Davis has the more intriguing upside due to his double-plus speed and above-average to plus raw power. That power is already starting to peak out of it’s shell and Davis should be able to tap into it more frequently as he adds bulk to his slight 6’4 frame. Best-case scenario could have us looking at a 25/30 threat at peak.
The swing from Brennen Davis’ fifth inning triple yesterday. He shot a middle-out fastball to the right-center warning track, and cruised into third for a stand-up triple in 11.76 seconds. pic.twitter.com/Tie5BYuXuK
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) May 29, 2019
Now, how does he get there? While the power/speed profile is prominent, Davis is still raw as a hitter and needs to clean up his mechanics, mainly, keeping his hands in sync with his lower half. He’s still young and these types of adjustments can be ironed out as he progresses through the minors. If Davis can get his mechanics in check and make consistent contact, there’s major offensive upside here. He’s off to a good start this season in Single-A, hitting .298 with three homers, two steals, and nearly as many walks (16) as strikeouts (18) in his first 84 at-bats.
With Roederer, the upside isn’t quite as high, but as of now, he’s a more advanced hitter than Davis with the better hit tool. His swing is quick with clean mechanics from the left side and there’s some natural loft to it as well. He’s shown a good feel for hitting and can use the entire field to his advantage. The power/speed upside might not be quite as high, but with his above-average raw power and modest speed, Roederer could be a 25/15 guy at peak to go along with a solid batting average to go along with it. Both of these guys are big targets of mine right now in dynasty leagues.
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.
- Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL | Last: 1 (#FreeKeston)
- Luis Urias, 2B, SD | Last: 2
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 3
- Nate Lowe, 1B, TB | Last: 4
- Carter Kieboom, SS/2B, WAS | Last: 5
- Monte Harrison, OF, MIA | Last: 6
- Ryan Mountcastle, SS, BAL | Last: 7
- Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK | Last: 8
- Jake Fraley, OF, SEA | Last: NR
- Isan Diaz, 2B, MIA | Last: 10
Called Up: Bobby Bradley
- Brendan McKay, LHP, TB | Last: 1
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 3
- Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW | Last: 2
- Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT | Last: 4
- Corbin Martin, RHP, HOU | Last: 5
- Anthony Kay, LHP, NYM | Last: 6
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 7
- Bryse Wilson, RHP, ATL | Last: NR
- Lewis Thorpe, RHP, MIN | Last: NR
- Matt Manning, RHP, DET | Last: 10
Called Up: Kyle Wright
Photo/Video Credit: Lance Browdowski, Prospects Live, Minors Graphs, MLB Pipeline, Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith,
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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