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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Turning Heads in Triple-A

As the lower levels of the Minor Leagues had their Opening Weekend, Triple-A has had a head start. Some of the performances in Triple-A to this point have seemed like they were concocted by a video game designer. We will dive into some of the prospects turning heads right now in Triple-A and who could be pushing for a call to the Major Leagues sooner rather than later.

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 Rick Haake’s Top-400 Overall Fantasy Prospects and George Bissell’s Top-500 Dynasty League Rankings.

Triple-A Prospects Turning Heads

Heston Kjerstad, OF/1B BAL

Anyone who pays attention to baseball heard all about Triple-A Norfolk’s explosion on Triple-A Charlotte. One player who was a major contributor to the mayhem was Heston Kjerstad who has been absolutely on fire to start the season. The former first-round draft pick out of Arkansas has displayed the massive raw power on his quick rise through the Orioles farm system. This season however he is crushing home runs at a breakneck speed. In nine games played Kjerstad is slashing .462/.522/1.026 with six home runs, 13 runs scored, and 25 RBIs while walking 10.9% and striking out just 17.4% across 46 plate appearances.

With the Major League team stacked it was understandable to see Kjerstad go back to Triple-A to start the season but like so many of his teammates with the Tides when will they get the call? For dynasty managers, it seems like only a matter of time before an injury will open up a spot for Kjerstad who could contribute 30-plus home run power to the Orioles in one of the corner outfield positions or spell Mountcastle at first.

Caleb Durbin, 2B/3B NYY

This was a prospect we highlighted a ton over the off-season and the dynasty managers who scooped him up are happy they did so in the early goings. Currently, just 2% rostered on Fantrax Durbin’s stock will only climb after the hot start to the Triple-A season. The 24-year-old is slashing .464/.579/.786 with one home run, six runs scored, 14 RBIs, and seven stolen bases in eight games played. Durbin has stood out over the off-season as a low strikeout prospect who has used his advanced bat-to-ball skills to get on base at a high clip. In his 38 plate appearances so far this season, Durbin has a 21.1% walk percentage paired with a 5.3% strikeout rate.

What has been new to Durbin’s games since making some tweaks in the Arizona Fall League has been the power surge. Of Durbin’s 13 total hits so far six have been for extra bases a far cry from the 22 we saw in 77 total hits in High-A and Double-A in 2023. To remind dynasty managers Durbin is a high-contact batter who doesn’t strike out much at all (Career 7.7% strikeout rate) and has above-average speed pitching in 36 stolen bases in 69 games played in 2023.

Cristian Mena, RHP ARI

Coming over to the Diamondbacks in a low-key trade of Dominic Fletcher for Cristian Mena, the 21-year-old right-hander has settled in nicely in a primarily hitter-friendly environment. Mena had a solid final season in the White Sox organization ascending from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte at just 20 years old. On the season Mena started in 27 games with 156 strikeouts over 133.2 innings pitched with a .248 average against and finished the year with a 4.85 ERA. With a four-pitch mix, Mena has the four-seam fastball coming in at 94 mph and sits at 92 mph. The slider and curveball are Mena’s best offerings. Thrown just as much as the fastball, the slider tops out at 87 mph with above-average spin rates.

Like the slider the curveball has above-average spin rates but like the change-up is a pitch Mena will pepper in coming in at 82 mph. The change-up doesn’t see as much action as the other offerings but is effective setting batters eyes averaging 89 mph.

In his first two starts with Triple-A Reno Mena has eight strikeouts in 11 innings pitched, good for a 6.55 K/9 with a .189 average against and a 0.82 ERA. Don’t let the low strikeouts deter you as Mena saw more success with the strikeout in his first outing generating 10 whiffs on primarily his slider and curveball out of 28 swings vs Las Vegas with six strikeouts over five innings pitched. In the second outing vs Sacramento Mena struck out just two over six innings. What might have caused the lack of strikeouts was the uptick in usage of the fastball which was getting hit more often and a decreased usage of the curveball. All this to say we could see better strikeout days from Mena as the Diamondbacks learn what has the best success.

Max Muncy, SS OAK

Oakland has quietly been pushing Max Muncy through the Minor Leagues since being selected in the first round 25th overall in the 2021 MLB Draft. The now 21-year-old shortstop had a solid season in High-A Lansing and Double-A Midland in 2023. In 123 combined games played Muncy slashed .275/.353/.411 with 10 home runs, 76 runs scored, 62 RBIs, and stole 13 bases. This was enough for the Athletics to promote Muncy to Triple-A to start the 2024 season. In his first seven games played with the Aviators Muncy is slashing .360/.429/.600 with one home run, four runs scored, six RBIs, and two stolen bases. Across his 28 plate appearances, Muncy doesn’t look over-matched striking out just 14.3% of the time.

For dynasty purposes, it appears the Athletics want Muncy up sooner rather than later. With the turmoil on where the club will be after the 2024 season, Muncy could be what the Oakland fans are putting hope in. It might be some time before he is anything more than an average shortstop for dynasty purposes but the early results are encouraging.

Cade Povich, LHP BAL

Baltimore is watching Cad Povich closely as he is making his second stint in Triple-A Norfolk and as dynasty managers so should we. The 23-year-old left-hander from the University of Nebraska was drafted in the third round by the Minnesota Twins and came to the Orioles in the Jorge Lopez trade in ‘22. Povich features a deep pitching arsenal consisting of a four-seam fastball 92 mph, cutter 89 mph, slider 81 mph, curveball 74 mph, and change-up 85 mph.

In his first two starts this season with the Norfolk Tides Povich has 14 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched, good for an 11.45 K/9 with a .083 batting average against and a 0.82 ERA. The most recent start against Charlotte was Povich’s best yet getting 16 whiffs on 86 total pitches working 50% fastball and 20% change-up. For dynasty managers Povich along with Chayce McDermott appear to be the Orioles’ next pitching prospect making Povich an interesting back of the rotation arm long term.

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