Minor League Sleeper Team of the Week

Taylor Walls, Darick Hall, and many others are covered in this week's Minor League Sleeper Team of the Week from Jt Kohout.

Under the radar players are vital to your dynasty teams; players like Bryan Reynolds, John Means, and Hunter Dozier are among the many players that started the season predominantly unheralded and have made a big impact for fantasy teams. This is a weekly article about some players who are putting up interesting numbers in the minors and how they should be stashed in your dynasty leagues. As a rule, the player must be 10% owned or less in Fantrax leagues. 


Catcher: Deivy Grullon; Philadelphia Phillies (1% owned) Age: 23


Current Level: Triple-A

Deivy Grullon is interesting because he plays catcher and can hit. Is that not enough? He’s shown plus power with ISOs over .200 the past two seasons, and while the .306 average in Triple-A is fairly inflated, he still profiles as a solid power bat. Entering 2018 Grullon had consistently sat as a high .600s OPS, but in 2018 that became a .825 OPS and he showed more power than he ever had with 21 home runs and a career high .241 ISO. The improvements have continued in 2019, with a .878 OPS and a career high 9.3% walk rate. He’s currently blocked by J.T. Realmuto, but he’s still worth stashing due to his power upside.


First Base: Darick Hall; Philadelphia Phillies (1% owned) Age: 23


Current Level: Double-A

Darick Hall is a bit of a one-trick pony, but that one trick is very useful. He hits a lot of home runs, with 78 in 389 career games. In 2018 he dominated High-A ball, but struggled a bit in Double-A with a .713 OPS and a 18:79 BB:K ratio. He has rebounded well this year with a career high 10.4% walk rate and a .823 OPS. His power is really his most bankable trait, but he profiles similarly to somebody like early-career Mark Trumbo. I don’t think he is going to get a chance with the Phillies major league club anytime soon, but he is Rule-5 eligible at the end of this season and if he can continue to improve against Double-A pitching, he could see himself with a chance as a bench bat by the beginning of 2020. 


Second Base: Matt Batten; San Diego Padres (0% owned) Age:24 


Current Level: Triple-A

Matt Batten is in just his third season as a professional baseball player, so it isn’t super surprising to see that this year has been by far the best of his professional career. However, the way he’s improved is what’s most interesting. His strikeout rate was at 28.5% for his career entering 2019, but against Triple-A pitching that’s improved to just 19.5%. His six home runs in 236 plate appearances and .873 OPS also represent career highs. He’s played left field and all four positions in the infield this season and has a solid arm. He may end up being more useful to the real life Padres than to fantasy teams, but considering the huge improvements he’s made in 2019, at the very least he’s worth keeping an eye on and seeing if the improvements are legitimate. 


Third Base: Abraham Toro; Houston Astros (6% owned) Age: 22


Current Level: Double-A

After killing High-A ball in the beginning of 2018, Abraham Toro was called up to Double-A as a 21-year-old. The results were not good. In 202 plate appearances, Toro struck out a career-high 23.2% of the time while walking in just 8.4% of his plate appearances. In 2019, Toro has adjusted fantastically, bringing that walk rate back up to 11.7%, and bringing the strikeout rate back down to 17.9% in 351 plate appearances this season. His .303 average is a career high and his 13 home runs and four stolen bases show off the different ways he can project to be helpful in the future. Toro projects to fill a Marwin Gonzalez type of role once he gets to the majors, as they’ve continued to use Toro all around the infield. I would expect Toro to be called up to Triple-A in the next couple of weeks, and if he is called up I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a role as a bench bat to start 2020.


Shortstop: Taylor Walls; Tampa Bay Rays (2% owned) Age: 22


Current Level: Double-A

After a breakout 2018 in which Taylor Walls hit .304/.393/.428 with a 66:80 BB:K ratio in 540 plate appearances in A-ball, he started to garner a little bit of hype. He struggled in the beginning of the season in High-A, but turned it around and in his last 117 plate appearances in High-A he hit .307/.385/.455 with a 14:18 BB:K ratio. That hot stretch got him a call-up to Double-A where he’s put up a similar .311/.360/.400 slash line in a small sample of 50 plate appearances. His contact skills and his speed (56 steals in 219 professional games) are his calling cards. He needs to show more power to be looked at as a future stud, but right now he remains interesting, and if he can hit well against Double-A pitching he’ll have a chance to start 2020 on the 40-man roster. 


Outfield: Jared Oliva; Pittsburgh Pirates (2% owned) Age:23


Current Level: Dobule-A

Jared Oliva has one bankable trait at this point in his minor league career: his speed. In 70 games in Double-A, Oliva has gone 24-for-29 on stolen base chances. His profile as a hitter is odd. Fangraphs gave him a raw power grade of 55, which is pretty good, but he’s never really shown that in the minors. His .128 ISO isn’t great, but one thing he’s continuously improved upon in his three years in the Pirates’ farm system is increased plate discipline. His walk rate has improved each year in the minors from 6.6%, to 8.8%, to 9.7%, while his strikeout rate has consistently stayed around 20%. If he can start showing more of that level of power in the minors, then he becomes very interesting, but his current state as a heavy speed source still makes him worth stashing in the majority of dynasty leagues.


Outfield: Nick Longhi; Cincinnati Reds (0% owned) Age: 23


Current Level: Triple-A

Entering 2019, it’s fair to say Nick Longhi was pretty much a complete afterthought in the Reds farm system. In 2018 he hit .244 with two home runs in 291 plate appearances across Double-A and Triple-A. He was coming off Tommy John surgery he had in 2017, which would be a fair excuse for why he struggled so mightily. He has entirely turned that around in 2019. He has career highs in OPS (.862) and Home runs (10) and has started pulling the ball more than he ever has at a 42.9% rate. He’s still very young at 23 and seems at the very least like somebody to continue monitoring as he’s having his best season of his career in Triple-A. It would have to be a very deep league to stash Longhi, considering this is the first time he’s ever been an above average hitter at the level he’s playing at, but if the improvements are real he could find himself as a part of the Reds outfield by the end of 2019. 


Outfield: Vince Fernandez; Colorado Rockies (1% owned) Age: 23


Current Level: Double-A

Vince Fernandez’s 2019 is pretty much over due to a 50 game suspension after testing positive for amphetamines, but I still think he has a lot of promise as a prospect. Fernandez has big time power and was really showing it this season with a career high .318 ISO in his first test of Double-A pitching. His .943 OPS was among the top for qualified hitters in the Eastern League. The flaws in his plate approach are his biggest drawback. His 30.9% K rate this season matches around where its been most of his career. The most interesting part of his 2019 season was that he finally was figuring out to hit lefties. In 2018 his slash line against LHP was .175/.316/.351, but in 2019 that improved to .288/.373/.542. It’s disappointing that we won’t see if those numbers were fluky or not this year, but I’d be adding him now in case that wasn’t a fluke and he was able to figure something out against lefties. 

Starting Pitcher: Ljay Newsome; Seattle Mariners (3% owned) Age: 22


Current Level: Triple-A

Ljay Newsome entered the season coming off three mediocre seasons in A-ball. He started his season by going to what the Mariners call “gas camp,” which is an offseason program that has helped improve pitchers’ velocity. It has paid dividends for Newsome, who has spent the majority of his minor league career as an average strikeout pitcher—he now has a career high 11.6 K/9. He still doesn’t throw exceptionally fast, with his average fastball moving from the high 80’s to the low 90’s, but him getting to a point where that fastball is average velocity-wise has been huge. His calling card entering the season was his control, and that has remained great with his 109:9 K:BB ratio on the season in 87 innings. He was recently called up to Triple-A and his first start went fine, striking out ten batters in five and two thirds innings, while allowing four runs, five hits, and one walk. It will be interesting to see if Newsome can continue to show this strikeout upside in the higher levels of the minors, and if he does he becomes a very interesting stash in dynasty leagues. 

Relief Pitcher: Kevin Ginkel; Arizona Diamondbacks (1% owned) Age:25


Current Level: Triple-A 

Kevin Ginkel has exactly what you want out of a relief pitcher prospect—a great fastball and a good secondary pitch. His fastball sits at around 96 mph with a very good slider that sits in the high 80s. Ginkel also has very good control, as shown by his 145:20 K:BB ratio in 107 ⅔ innings over the past two seasons. With the Diamondbacks possibly ready to sell off pieces once the trade deadline comes along, Ginkel has a very good chance to be put into a high-leverage role by the end of the season for the big league club. 

Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Jt Kohout

Twenty years old. Huge baseball, basketball, and football fan. Most importantly a diehard Orioles fan. Also write for FakeTeams of SBNation and Numberfire.

One response to “Minor League Sleeper Team of the Week”

  1. Franklin says:

    I like this article Would have preferred a bit more in depth for some.

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