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Key Prospects To Watch From Opening Weekend In Low-A

All levels of the Minor Leagues are up and running as we begin to look for opportunities to stash some of these prospects on the rise. This early in the season we are evaluating extremely small sample sizes but the key here is to be ahead of the curve. Some of these prospects will regress back to how they were but the ones that will take the steps necessary to ascend will benefit the savvy dynasty manager with long-term success. Let’s dive into five key prospects to watch from Low-A over the opening weekend.

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Early Season Low-A Prospects To Watch

Byron Chourio, OF MIN

One of the prospects to watch this season in the Twins organization is Byron Chourio. The 6’2” 171-pound outfielder is filling into his frame and at just 18 years old there is still plenty of time to get to above-average power. Originally signed by the Marlins, Chourio impressed in 51 games played in the DSL in 2022 slashing .344/.429/.410 with 47 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases to go with an 11.5% walk rate and 12.4% strikeout rate. Once in the Twins organization, Chourio played just 24 games in the Complex league with so-so results. Regardless we continued to see the advanced plate approach walking 18.9% and striking out 17.9% in 106 plate appearances.

Now in Low-A Chourio has gotten off to a quick start slashing .500/.571/.667 with four runs scored, one RBI, and one stolen base in 14 plate appearances over three games played. Sticking with his approach, Chourio has already drawn two walks (14.3% BB) while striking out just three times (21.4% K). If Chourio can continue to see success early on he will rise up dynasty rankings making this a solid early stash.

Daniel Vazquez, SS KCR

Now in his third stint in Low-A Daniel Vazquez is getting off to a hot start to the season with the Columbia Fireflies. The 6’1” shortstop hasn’t impressed since his debut in the DSL back in 2021 showing off above-average speed but little else. Something that has been encouraging from Vazquez has been the above-average walk percentages in three seasons in the Royals organization never dropping below 8.6%. Now at 20 years old Vazquez is slashing .583/.667/.667 with one run RBI and one stolen base tallying seven hits in 12 at-bats. The average will come down without a doubt but if Vazquez can improve with the batting average over last season a promotion to High-A will come sooner rather than later.

Matt Wilkinson, LHP CLE

Drafted in the 10th round of the 2023 MLB Draft out of Central Arizona College Matt Wilkinson made his 2024 debut in style. The 6’1” 270-pound lefty was dominant on the mound striking out nine batters in five innings pitched allowing two hits and walking three batters. With a larger frame, Wilkinson intimidated the Rangers minor league affiliate Downeast Wood Ducks pumping in his low-90s fastball with a tight 78 mph slider. Wilkinson mixed in the 83 mph change-up and proved to be a solid out pitch against Low-A batters. At 21 Wilkinson is slightly old for the level but due to pitching one inning in Complex Ball after the draft Low-A was the logical next step. If this success continues Wilkinson with be in High-A Lake County in no time though he will likely need to gain velocity to fool advanced batters.

George Klassen, RHP PHI

Philadelphia selected George Klassen in the sixth round of the 2023 MLB Draft out of the University of Minnesota where the results were not necessarily impressive. The 6’2” right-handed pitcher’s debut in Low-A Clearwater, however, was something to behold. Against Low-A Bradenton, Klassen struck out nine batters over five innings of work allowing only one hit with no walks and no earned runs. His four-seam fastball was coming in at 97.6 mph with high spin rates generating a 43.8% whiff percentage. The second go-to pitch for Kassen in this start was the cutter which he threw 21 times in this start (out of 66 total pitches) averaging 91.3 mph and getting a 55.6% whiff percentage. Klassen only went to the curveball two times in this start but hit averages of 85-86 mph with average spin rates.

These results were fun to watch and could make George Klassen a must-stash pitcher in short order. Now would be the time to make the move to grab him in deeper dynasty leagues as his ownership has jumped up since the start but is still low at only 4% owned.

Jonah Tong, RHP NYM

The New York Mets have been advancing the pitching lab in the organization and Jonah Tong could be an interesting arm to watch in the organization. Tong pitched just 21 innings in 2023 between Complex League and Low-A St Lucie striking out 38 batters but also struggling with the walks averaging 9.48 BB/9. In this first appearance out of the bullpen, Tong struck out 11 batters over 4.1 innings pitched allowing two hits while walking two batters. Tong features a four-seam fastball that rests in the low-90s but topped out at 95 mph in this start with solid movement. The 12-6 curveball was coming in at 76 mph with 68 inches of vertical drop resulting in a 53% CSW with the slider reaching 87 mph with a sharp/tight break. Not too exciting was the change-up that came in the upper 80s but lacked the fade you want to see late.

Last season Tong was deployed as a starter and I still believe this could be the case this year but the change-up will need to improve as well as the command and control for the 21-year-old. Worse case scenario he could be an interesting reliever who could move quickly with the high spin rates on the curveball and the fastball.

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