Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: The Yordan Alvarez Era Has Begun
Shocker, the past week across the minor league landscape was once again hustlin’ and bustlin’. What’s new, right? That’s part of the beauty of prospects and the minor leagues. No matter what time of the year it is, there’s always plenty to talk about. Prospects are always improving, struggling, thriving, ascending, and unfortunately, getting injured. Brent Honeywell knows that last one all too well. But hey, it’s not all bad. The lead story this week is actually something incredibly positive that I’m sure makes the majority of you feel all giddy inside. That’s right, after asking the question, “Why the heck is Yordan Alvarez still in Triple-A?” every week for the last month and a half, we can finally put that question to bed this week. Yordan Alvarez is finally up with the Astros.
Houston, there’s no problem anymore. Sorry, I’m a dad that makes dad jokes. You should know this by now. Anyway, let’s dive into this week’s prospects report.
Check out my 10 pitching prospects on the rise piece from earlier this week for some good dynasty trade targets if you want a boost on the mound.
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, Top-300 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report- Yordan Alvarez Has Arrived
Yordan Alvarez Finally Promoted
It’s about damn time. Regardless of what Houston’s reasoning was for keeping Alvarez in Triple-A while he was putting up Babe Ruth numbers, he’s up now and that’s all in the past. People can say his numbers were due to Pacific Coast League inflation until they’re blue in the face, and they wouldn’t necessarily be 100% wrong either. Everyone in the PCL has been playing with the MLB baseballs and offense is up across the league. But the numbers Alvarez put up were especially dominant, even for the PCL. In 56 games, Alvarez slashed .343/.443/.742/1.184 with 16 doubles, 23 homers, 71 RBI, and 50 runs scored with a 38/50 BB/K ratio. Those numbers were good for 8th (AVG), 2nd (OBP, SLG, OPS, & TB), 1st (HR, RBI & XBH), and 4th (R) in the league. And this is after he endured a slight slump to end his PCL tenure, too.
Now that he’s up, the Yordan Alvarez question shifts to how valuable can he be in 2019 and beyond? To put it simply, highly valuable. Alvarez is a hitter through and through. He averaged 36 homers per 600 AB in the minors with a .311/.395/.561/.956 slash line and has always kept his strikeouts in check with a 20.9 career K rate. With phenomenal bat speed and feel for the barrel, Alvarez should have no problems hitting for a high average with plenty of power along with it. Where his defensive home ends up is still a mystery due to his below-average defense, but even if he’s a DH, he could turn into a J.D Martinez type of offensive force. He’s that good. And for the rest of 2019, I’d be valuing him as a top-100 guy.
Have I mentioned that Alvarez has homered in each of his first two games with Houston? Already putting that plus-plus raw power on full display.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 12, 2019
Brent Honeywell Done For Season
First, it was Tommy John surgery, then nerve issues in his shoulder, now a fractured elbow. What else is going to go wrong on Brent Honeywell? Don’t answer that question, I don’t want to know the answer. Maybe his arm will just fall completely off next and he’ll have to learn how to pitch left-handed. Who knows.
There’s no denying the upside with Honeywell, but he’s entered that dangerous zone where the risk has caught up to the upside and maybe even surpassed it. Could his magical screwball be the culprit behind these arm issues? Hard to say for sure and whether or not the screwball puts more strain on the elbow than a curveball or slider is an interesting discussion. While I don’t necessarily think the screwball is the root cause, it does make you wonder if Honeywell simplifies his arsenal longterm and drops one of his breaking pitches.
That remains to be seen and we’ll have to wait until 2020 to see how Honeywell returns from yet another arm injury. Part of me wants to say that this is a great time to buy-low on him in dynasty leagues. But then the other part of me is yelling to stay away due to all the risk. If you can get Honeywell cheap, I’d still make a run at him as the upside here is still incredibly high. Patience will be key.
Returning Athletics Arms
While one top pitching prospect in Honeywell is done for the season, two more are returning to action in Oakland’s system. Southpaws A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo both made their 2019 season debuts last night for High-A Stockton with Puk getting the start and Luzardo coming in after.
A common question that gets asked on Twitter is “who are the top prospects to stash?” On the pitching side of things, both of these left-handers make for quality stashes in re-draft mixed leagues. Luzardo was on the cusp of cracking the Athletics rotation out of spring training before going on the IL
Will the Real Luis Garcia(s) Please Stand Up?
Coming into the 2019 season, both Luis Garcia’s were garnering a ton of attention in dynasty leagues due to their tools and strong performances in 2018. The Washington version hit .298 with 34 extra-base hits, seven home runs, and 12 steals in 500 at-bats (A/A+) while the Philly version was even more impressive, hitting .369 with 15 extra-base hits, 12 steals, and a 15/21 BB/K rate in 168 at-bats (RK). Fast forward to 2019 and the duo is slashing .234/.269/.270/.540 and .187/.268/.251/.519 respectively. Add their OPS numbers together and they’re still over 100 points below Yordan Alvarez’s OPS.
There are a few things to keep in mind here. Both are still very young, raw as hitters, and experiencing new levels this season. Philly Luis was bumped up to the Single-A South Atlantic League and Washington Luis to the Double-A Eastern League, making both one of the youngest at each level. Yeah, you get it, they’re young.
This is the perfect time to pounce on them in dynasty leagues with a sneaky little buy-low trade offer. Both possess an above-average to plus hit tool and speed and I’ll take the tools over the production every time with young players like this.
Other Prospect Notes
Bo Bichette (SS/2B – TOR): After around a month and a half on the IL with a broken hand, Bo Bichette returned to action last night, going 4/5 with High-A Dunedin. He should be back up in Triple-A soon and could make his way up to Toronto later this summer with a strong Triple-A performance. But then again, Toronto could very well give him the Guerrero treatment and we don’t see him until 2020.
Joey Bart (C – SF): Bart also returned over the last week after a month and a half absence and has wasted no time flexing his power slugging three home runs in five games. He now has five home runs in 15 games on the season. Expect a bump up to Double-A this summer.
Nick Madrigal (2B – CHW): There’s a wide array of opinions when it comes to Nick Madrigal and his future upside. Some, like me, love the hit tool, plate approach, and speed. Others will point out his lack of power and say it limits his ultimate ceiling. The naysayers aren’t necessarily wrong, but can we just appreciate Madrigal for what he is? The ability to hit at or above .300 with 20-25+ stolen bases carries plenty of value even if it only comes with a handful of home runs. And don’t forget, Madrigal hates striking out like I hate broccoli and pants (Don’t worry, I wear shorts), striking out only 2.7% of the time through his first 95 minor league games. The White Sox recently bumped him to Double-A and another bump to Triple-A could happen before season’s end.
Heliot Ramos (OF – SF): Following the 2017 season, Heliot Ramos had cemented himself as a top-100 prospect and was pushing top-50 status. Then a “down” 2018 season dulled that gleam a tad. Remember how I said I’ll take tools over production with younger prospects? Ramos is a prime example of that. Through 31 games this season in the High-A California League, Ramos is slashing .318/.427/.598/1.026 with nine doubles, seven home runs, and has more than doubled his walk rate. As I said below, Ramos is still one of the top young outfield prospects in the game.
Heliot Ramos has improved drastically in 2019 after what was considered a "down" 2018 season where he was one of the youngest in the SALLY & still made some minor improvements. He remains one of the top young OF prospects in the game w/ plus offensive skills.#SFGiants #MiLB pic.twitter.com/6pZV20rMt8
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) June 11, 2019
Joe Palumbo (LHP – TEX): The Rangers needed a starter last weekend and dipped down to their Double-A affiliate in Frisco, summoning Joe Palumbo up for his Major League debut on Saturday. Four earned runs over four innings later and Palumbo is back in the minors. Not due to anything that happened Saturday, but this was only a spot start. With three above-average to plus offerings, headlined by a plus curveball, Palumbo has the upside of a high-K #3 starter and could be back up with the Rangers later this summer.
Peter Lambert (RHP – COL): While Palumbo was only up for a spot start, Peter Lambert has some staying power after looking damn good in his first two Major League starts, both of which have come against the Chicago Cubs. Lambert has won both starts, allowing two earned runs in 12 combined innings with a 12/3 K/BB ratio. He’s worth a look in mixed leagues, but just remember where his home ballpark is.
Griffin Conine (OF – TOR): Oh look, another 2nd generation player in the Blue Jays system. This particular 2nd generation bat is as hot as you can get lately, hitting .438 with 13 extra-base hits and six home runs in his first 12 games of the season. The power is legit, but Conine has displayed a below-average hit tool and strikes out too often. Even in this mini hot stretch, he’s whiffed 17 times in 12 games.
Jordan Yamamoto (RHP – MIA): The Marlins announced that Jordan Yamamoto will take Jose Urena’s roster spot and make his MLB debut today. Yamamoto performed well in the Arizona Fall League last season, but has limited upside long-term. He’s only worth a look in NL-Only leagues.
Trent Grisham (OF – MIL): For a long time, Grisham has failed to live up to expectations after a good Rookie League debut back in 2015. He did have 37 steals in 2017, but the batting average has been in the .223-.233 range for the last three seasons. Luckily a strong walk rate has kept his OBP in the .350 range. This season, the batting average is up to a much more respectable .262 with a career-high 13 home runs already. Could Grisham be turning a corner in his age-22 season?
Darwinzon Hernandez (LHP – BOS): Hernandez made his Major League debut yesterday against the Texas Rangers, allowing three earned runs in three innings while walking five and striking out seven. Basically, your typical Darwinzon Hernandez outing. He has good stuff, but command has been a big problem for him throughout his career, making him a risk/reward prospect to own in dynasty moving forward. Those in re-draft leagues can leave him alone for now as he likely won’t have much of an impact in 2019. In 40.1 innings for Double-A Portland, Hernandez has a 5.13 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 7.1 BB/9 and 13.2 K/9.
Gabriel Rodriguez (SS – CLE): One of the top prospects in the 2018 J2 crop, Rodriguez is off to a hot start in the DSL, hitting .333 with seven extra-base hits, three homers, and 16 RBI in his first eight games. He’s one of the top players in the league this year and is a prospect to keep an eye on moving forward.
Prospect Spotlight: Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets
Let’s start by fast-forwarding a few years. The Mets are going to have a tough decision to make on who their shortstop of the future is going to be. They already have Amed Rosario at the Major League level and the trio of Andres Gimenez, Shervyen Newton, and Ronny Mauricio are inching their way closer to Queens. Can you say first world problems? While Rosario is a fine shortstop and Gimenez is one of the top shortstop prospects in the game, ultimately, Mauricio might be the one with the highest ceiling when you factor in offensive and defensive capabilities.
In the field, Mauricio is an above-average defender with a strong arm. He moves fairly at shortstop and makes the plays he needs to make. If the Mets decide to anoint him as their long-term shortstop, Mauricio has the defensive skills to remain at the position for years to come. While the defense is nice, it’s Mauricio’s offensive upside that has many people, myself included, incredibly excited about his future potential.
Mets SS Ronny Mauricio is our 68th-ranked prospect and hit a double to left center on this swing for Low-A Columbia last weekend. He’s likely moving up in our next update. https://t.co/i1lhzqPMpz pic.twitter.com/5xCAO4qwHQ
— FanGraphs Prospects (@FG_Prospects) April 23, 2019
As a switch hitter, Mauricio has displayed plus contact skills and a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate, though, he’s struggled a bit from the right side this season. Mauricio starts with his hands right by ear, coils down and back, and explodes through the strike zone with exceptional bat speed and a direct swing path through the zone. He uses a bigger leg kick to time pitches as well as a big stride towards the pitcher, which coupled with his quick hips and wrists, generate plenty of torque in his swing. The big power numbers haven’t shown up yet in games, but with his above-average to plus raw power and bat speed, it’s easy to project plenty of power down the road once he beefs up his skinny 6’3 frame.
Mauricio is already climbing up prospect lists at a quick rate due to his ability to hit for power and a high average and has the upside to develop into a top-20 prospect before too long. Time is running out to acquire him in dynasty leagues at anything less than an elite prospect price tag.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Misael Urbina, OF, Minnesota Twins
The 2018 International J2 crop was loaded with talent, especially at the shortstop position. Prospects like Marco Luciano, Noelvi Marte, and Victor Victor Mesa garnered the most buzz along with the six thousand guys the New York Yankees signed. (Insert Red Sox fan grumble here). And while Misael Urbina was considered one of the 10 best prospects from this period, he hasn’t gotten nearly as much buzz as he should. I’m going to try and correct that today.
Now, Urbina isn’t cut from the same cloth as a Luciano, Marte, or Orelvis Martinez. He doesn’t possess the big plus power that draws the oohs and aahs from spectators. No, Urbina is more of an AVG/Speed threat with big upside in both. At the plate, Urbina generates a ton of bat speed with quick wrists, fluid hip rotation, and a clean swing path. The swing is more geared for line drives than over the fence shots right now due to the linear path through the zone, but Urbina has enough raw power to develop into a 15-20 homer guy once he adds more strength to his frame and some loft to his swing.
Running down a dream. Here’s outfield prospect Misael Urbina (Venezuela) running 60 yards in front of scouts here at Estadio Quisqueya. The timed run is the first part of the morning workout here at @MLB International Prospect Showcase. pic.twitter.com/9bv5nU2gC7
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 21, 2018
As for the speed, Urbina is a plus runner with 25+SB upside to go along with his double-digit pop and above-average to plus hit tool. He’s already putting his enticing offensive tools on full display in the Dominican Summer League, recording eight hits in his first 23 at-bats with five extra-base hits, one homer, and four steals. He’s still miles away from the Majors, but all the raw tools are here for Urbina to become an offensive star. Get ready to see his name skyrocket up prospect rankings over the next year or two.
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: 2 (#FreeKeston)
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 3
- Nate Lowe, 1B, TB | Last: 4
- Carter Kieboom, SS/2B, WAS | Last: 5
- Luis Urias, 2B, SD | Last: 6
- Monte Harrison, OF, MIA | Last: 7
- Ryan Mountcastle, SS, BAL | Last: 8
- Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK | Last: 9
- Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE | Last: 10
- Bo Bichette, SS, TOR | Last: NR
Called Up: Yordan Alvarez
- Zac Gallen, RHP, MIA | Last: 1
- Brendan McKay, LHP, TB | Last: 2
- Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW | Last: 4
- Corbin Martin, RHP, HOU | Last: MLB
- Anthony Kay, LHP, NYM | Last: 8
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 6
- Logan Allen, LHP, SD | Last: 5
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 7
- Casey Mize, RHP, DET | Last: 10
- Matt Manning, RHP, DET | Last: NR
Called Up: Mitch Keller
Photo/Video Credit: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire, MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs Prospects, Jesse Sanchez,
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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