Minor League Sleeper Team of the Week

Michael Baumann, Cole Freeman, and many others are covered in this week's Minor League Sleeper Team of the Week by Jt Kohout.

Under-the-radar players are vital to your dynasty teams; guys such as Bryan Reynolds, John Means, and Hunter Dozier are among the many players who started the season unheralded and have made a big fantasy impact. 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 5% owned or less in Fantrax leagues. 


Catcher: Nick Dini (0% owned); Kansas City Royals; Age: 25


Current Level: Triple-A

Nick Dini has broken out in 2019 in a couple of different ways. His. 256 ISO is a career high, and that, combined with 11 home runs in 197 plate appearances, shows off how much his power has played up with the Triple-A ball. His plate approach has always been bad with walk rates ranging around 5%, but in 2019 that has jumped to 9.6% with a 14.7% strikeout rate. His .302 average is not close to what you’d expect from him if gets a call-up, but there’s legitimate power in his bat, and if he can continue walking at an average rate while making tons of contact, then there’s a legitimate MLB profile here. He’s on the 7-day IL because a ball him in the face, but he’s expected to return soon. 


First Base: Tyreque Reed (1% owned); Texas Rangers; Age: 22


Current Level: A-Ball

Tyreque Reed has some of the best raw power in the minor leagues and may be finally figuring out how to hit. He struggled to start the season, but he was moved to A-ball and has destroyed its pitching with eight home runs and a 1.019 OPS in 119 plate appearances. More encouragingly, he’s cut his strikeout rate and is walking a ton at that level. He needs to do better in his next test against High-A pitching, but Reed’s upside is insane if he can make more contact, and he’s worth stashing in more leagues. 


Second Base: Cole Freeman (0% owned); Washington Nationals; Age: 24


Current Level: High-A

A 2017 fourth-round pick, Cole Freeman has shown off what made him worth a high-round selection in 2018. He has elite batted-ball skills combined with a great plate approach that has led to an even 44:44 BB:K ratio in 414 plate appearances in 2019. He also has 60-grade speed, which has helped lead to back-to-back 25-steal seasons in the minors. The ceiling here is an old-fashioned leadoff hitter where there’s not a lot of pop, but the speed is legit, and the plate approach is good enough to give him an everyday role. More realistically, he’s probably a utility infielder with speed upside, but if he can make better contact as he progresses through the minors, there’s upside for more with Freeman. 


Third Base: Kevin Padlo (1% owned); Tampa Bay Rays; Age: 22


Current Level: Triple-A

Kevin Padlo becomes the first player to make this team for a second time. As I wrote about before, Padlo had some hype in 2016 before really falling off in 2017 and 2018, and has had a huge 2019. Since I wrote that, Padlo continued to hit well against Double-A pitching and was called up to Triple-A, where the extremely early results are still promising. His .316/.350/.632 line in just 20 plate appearances tells us he’s not going to be outclassed by that level. He’s still not owned enough, and there’s a good possibility that Padlo starts 2019 with the Rays.


Shortstop: Danny Mendick (0% owned); Chicago White Sox; Age: 25


Current Level: Triple-A

Danny Mendick is a bit older than you’d like him to be for somebody in his first year against Triple-A pitching, but there’s an intriguing skill set here. He has 50-grade power and speed and has shown those off each of the last couple of seasons in the minors with at least 10 home runs and 12 steals in 2017, 2018, and 2019. He has a great eye and has shown against higher levels of the minors that he will walk at very above-average rates. There’s a chance he gets a call-up soon with how good he’s been in Triple-A, and if so, there’s legitimate 15-15 upside with great plate discipline. 


Outfield: Ka’ai Tom (0% owned); Cleveland Indians; Age: 25


Current Level: Triple-A

Since his first full season in 2017, Ka’ai Tom registered as a middling minor leaguer. His combined 2017 and 2018 numbers were fine across High-A and Double-A, but a .740 OPS with average pop and plate discipline isn’t intriguing. However, Tom’s 2019 season has been entirely different. Starting the season in Double-A, Tom really showed out in 81 games with a career-high 14 home runs, an increased 12.5% walk rate and a .285/.386/.512 slash line. He was then called up to Triple-A, and the results have been great there, with a .396/.439/.566 slash in 57 plate appearances. 


Outfield: Narciso Crook (0% owned); Cincinnati Reds; Age: 24


Current Level: Triple-A

Speaking of players who showed middling profiles in their past, Narciso Crook is in his sixth season with the Reds organization. His 2019 season has yielded career highs in batting average (.303), on-base percentage (.358), slugging percentage (.529), ISO (.226), and WOBA (.379). The plate discipline for Crook is bad, and there’s not a lot of speed in his profile. He’s dominated Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .307/.367/.577 slash line with seven home runs in 150 plate appearances. He’s worth monitoring to see if he can continue his improvements in the power departments, because if so he may be a legitimate must-stash for how well he’s doing at Triple-A at a young age. 


Outfield: Austin Listi (1% owned); Philadelphia Phillies; Age: 25


Current Level: Triple-A

Austin Listi has huge power, hits the ball in the air a ton, has no speed, and can’t really field. If he played for an American League team, I would be really excited about his profile from a DH perspective, but that could change. Listi has completely obliterated Triple-A pitching so far with a 1.081 OPS and eight home runs in 128 plate appearances. His plate approach is less strikeout-heavy than similar players with his profile, and he walks at above-average rates. There probably needs to be a position change from the outfield to first base for him to have a chance to stick in the minor leagues, but there’s intrigue here. 

Starting Pitcher: Michael Baumann (4% owned); Baltimore Orioles; Age: 23


Current Level: Double-A

Michael Baumann has been great at every level of the minors, and it has continued in 2019. Two starts ago was a nine-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts for Baumann. He has a good fastball that will reach 95 mph but sits between 92 and 94, a good curveball, and a changeup that needs work but has shown its flashes. There was a bit of concern with Baumann because a year ago his K/9 fell from 11.1 to 5.7 when he made the jump from A-ball to High-A, but that number jumped back up to 12.8 in 2019. Baumann is a legitimate riser and has a chance to be in the Orioles rotation by midseason 2020.

Relief Pitcher: Daniel Alvarez (0% owned); New York Yankees; Age: 23


Current Level: Triple-A

Originally signed out of Venezuela as a starting pitcher, Daniel Alvarez made the move to the bullpen in 2018, and he’s been dominant. Across Low-A, A-ball, Double-A, and Triple-A in 76.1 innings, Alvarez has a 2.05 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 110:26 K:BB ratio. Alvarez features mid-90s velocity, combined with a good changeup and a great curveball, and has a chance to make a run at the 40-man roster if he can show the same level of dominance he’s been showing against Triple-A pitching. 

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.

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