Prospect Roundup – Week 11

Adam Garland highlights the prospect performances you should know about from this past week.

(Photo by /Icon Sportswire)

New to Pitcher List, we are going to be doing a weekly prospect roundup that is designed to keep you informed on what is happening down in the minor leagues that is relevant for your dynasty leagues. I’ll be talking about who is hot, which top prospects are struggling, underrated guys that are producing to keep an eye on, or anything that may have caught my eye in general. So here is the first of many Prospect Rundowns that will be appearing every Saturday afternoon.

Jorge Guzman (SP, Miami Marlins) Age: 22, Level: A+

Guzman was acquired by the Marlins as part of the Giancarlo Stanton deal in the offseason and has put together an interesting year to date at Advanced-A Jupiter. Guzman had his best start of the season on Monday going 5.2 innings, striking out 10 batters and giving up hits and 3 walks while allowing no earned runs. This start pushed Guzman’s season ERA down to 1.91 and he now has 38 strikeouts against 28 walks in 42.1 innings pitched for the season. The walk rate is what stands out negatively, and that lack of control has contributed to a 4.05 FIP and 4.92 xFIP which both are well above his ERA and suggest that his skills aren’t matching the results that he’s achieving. His 10.1% swinging-strike rate is also notable for being solid but nothing special (MLB average this year is currently 10.7%) and I think he’s a guy that may fall down mid-season prospect lists slightly.

Willie Calhoun (OF, Texas Rangers) Age: 23, Level: AAA

Calhoun similar to Jorge Guzman above was acquired through a trade as he was a part of the Yu Darvish deal at last year’s trade deadline. Calhoun returned to AAA this year after hitting .300 with 31 HRs last year, and unexpectedly struggled as he was hitting just .229/.308/.365 as of May 1st. He has been getting back on track recently and been especially hot this week with multiple hits in every game including a 3 for 4 day on Monday with a HR. His season line now sits at .282/.330/.424 with 6 HRs and he’s supported that with a 5.9% walk rate and 12.1% strikeout rate. His high-end contact skills are still there with an above-average 8.2% swinging-strike rate, but the power needs to come back more for him to be fantasy relevant. The good news is, he seems to be finding his stroke again! Watch for him in re-drafts as a call-up to the majors is possible sometime soon.

Peter Lambert (SP, Colorado Rockies) Age: 21, Level: AA

I’m usually one to suggest that investing in a Rockies pitcher is not a good idea, but I think Lambert has the skills to be an asset in deeper dynasty leagues and should at least be on your watch list. Very quietly, he’s put up a 2.51 ERA this season with 55 strikeouts against 10 walks in 71.2 innings pitched. The mediocre strikeout totals may not look amazing, but he’s showing excellent control, keeping the ball in the ballpark with just a 0.50 HR/9 mark and is supporting that with an above-average 50.5% groundball rate that should help him manage Coors Field reasonably if/when he gets there. His swinging-strike rate also isn’t terrible by any means at 9.4% which ranks in a tie for 29th best in the Eastern League among qualified pitchers. His 3.03 FIP ranks 2nd in the Eastern League and his 3.59 xFIP ranks 9th while being 3.4 years younger than league average.

Tirso Ornelas (OF, San Diego Padres) Age: 18, Level: A

Ornelas is one of the more interesting prospects in a loaded Padres system as he’s showing a nice mix of contact skills with a good approach and offers future power potential. Ornelas notably had a HR on Thursday which was his 6th of the season, and he’s now hitting .265/.356/.414 in the Midwest League. His 11.7% walk rate and 17% strikeout rate are both very impressive for an 18-year old in full-season ball, as his above-average 7.1% swinging-strike rate which shows his high-quality contact skills. Overall, he’s been worth a very solid 118 wRC+ which is tops among 18-year-old players at the A-ball level. He should be on radars in deeper dynasty leagues for those looking for a breakout power bat!

Taylor Widener (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks) Age: 23, Level: AA

Widener has been one of the quieter breakout stories in the minors this year and I’m not sure why? He continued that breakout with another strong performance on Wednesday in which he went 6 innings, striking out 12 and allowing just 3 hits along with 2 walks and no runs allowed. That performance pushed Widener’s season line to a 2.53 ERA with 89 K’s against 22 BB’s in 67.2 innings pitched. He’s supported that with an above-average 12.5% swinging-strike rate which ranks 5th in the Southern League, and his .192 batting average against ranks 1st. His FIP and xFIP are also top marks in the league and this shows how dominant that he has been this year at AA. He deserves to rise in mid-season prospect rankings and I think he should be owned in dynasty leagues that roster around 200 prospects.

Ryan McKenna (OF, Baltimore Orioles) Age: 21, Level: A+

McKenna has been one of the hotters this past week in the minors, posting 6 multi-hit performances and has hit .516 with 3 HRs since last Saturday. The dominance this week has pushed McKenna’s season line to a very impressive .375/.466/.557 with 8 HRs and 5 SBs in 293 PAs and he’s supported that with a 12.6% walk and a 15% strikeout rate. He now leads the Carolina League in both batting average and on-base% by over 50 points and his slugging% also leads the league. His 187 wRC+ is far and away the best in the circuit as well. He’s clearly been the best hitter in the Carolina League and deserves a promotion to AA soon. His success this season likely pushes him up mid-season prospect rankings and he should probably be picked up in leagues that roster around 200 prospects at this point.

Michael Shawaryn (SP, Boston Red Sox) Age: 23, Level: AA

A former 5th round pick in 2016, Shawaryn has put together a very solid 2018 season and that continued this week with another strong performance on Thursday in which he went 6 innings, striking out 7 against 0 walks and without giving up a run. This was one of Shawaryn’s best outings of the season to date, and he now has a 3.12 ERA with 66 walks against 14 walks in 69.1 innings pitched. His 12% swinging-strike rate is above-average and ranks 5th best in the Eastern League, while his .222 batting average against ranks 10th and both highlight his ability to miss bats. The combination of swing and miss stuff along with low walk totals this year is what makes him interesting for us fantasy players and he could be a decent option in deeper dynasty leagues.

Ramon Laureano (OF, Oakland Athletics) Age: 23, Level: AAA

A personal favorite of mine a couple years ago, Laureano broke out in 2016 only to have a disappointing 2017 season. He may now be rebuilding his prospect stock again with solid numbers in 2018 to date in which he has posted a .302/.390/.465 line with 3 HRs and 4 SBs in 100 PAs. He has been notably impressive this week, posting a hit in every game including 3 consecutive multi-hit efforts that began with a 4 for 5 day on Wednesday. He has notably shown a good eye at the plate throughout his minor league career and generally is very patient, and that is the case again this year as he now has a 13% walk rate. His 22% strikeout rate may look fairly high, but it’s a consequence of his patience and his 10.6% swinging-strike indicates that his contact skills are solid. He’s yet another player that I think should have some deeper dynasty league appeal as an OBP and SB asset that also has a touch of power.

Forrest Whitley (SP, Houston Astros) Age: 20, Level: AA

Perhaps the consensus top pitching prospect in the minors after a dominant draft +1 season in which he became just the 5th prep-arm this century to reach AA in their first season (joining Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dylan Bundy, and Chad Billingsly). Whitley began the year with a 50 game suspension but has come back strong with 2 dominant outings to start his season. On Wednesday, he threw 4 innings of shutout ball, striking out 6 against 2 walks and allowing just 2 hits. He now has 11 strikeouts against 2 walks and just 3 hits allowed in 8 innings pitched for the season with a 0.00 ERA. He needs to continue building up his innings as he pushes his way up towards the majors, but his stuff is likely good enough to help now and he could be an option in the bullpen late in the season for the Astros. He should be owned in all dynasty leagues and on radars in all keeper leagues. He should likely also be on radars for those in re-draft leagues for next year as his potential impact makes him a must-own if he gets a consistent role.

Ronny Rojas (SS, New York Yankees) Age: 16, Level: ROK

Rojas was a $1 million international amateur signing by the Yankees last July, and at the time of signing, he was known as one of the best hitters in the international amateur class. Rojas who is one of the younger signees from last year has been proving that he is one of the best hitters from that class by putting up a .370/.541/.852 line with 2 HRs and 2 SBs in 37 PAs so far in the Dominican Summer League. He notably has a hit in every game this past week and hit a HR on Thursday. It’s a super small sample and we’re not at a point of stabilization for any numbers, but he’s currently walking at a crazy 24.3% rate and striking out at a 37.8% clip. Being that young in the Dominican Summer League, the K’s are likely to be expected but the damage he’s done to date is super impressive and he could be one to watch for those looking to chase upside in deep dynasty leagues.

Kyle Funkhouser (SP, Detroit Tigers) Age: 24, Level: AA

A 4th round pick back in 2016 out of Louisville, Funkhouser has been a fairly quick riser and a consistently strong performer. Funkhouser put together perhaps his best start of the season on Tuesday of this week, throwing 6 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts against 0 walks, and allowing just 3 hits. He lowered his season ERA to 3.88, and along with that he has 65 strikeouts against 28 walks in 65 innings pitched. He currently has a roughly average 10.4% swinging-strike rate on the season and a 40.5% ground-ball rate. He may not have elite upside, but he looks to be fairly close to the majors and has the sort of repertoire to be successful as a mid-rotation starter making him relevant in a lot of dynasty leagues going forward. He could be a decent sleeper!

Matt Thaiss (1B, Los Angeles Angels) Age: 23, Level: AAA

A 1st round pick back in 2016 (16th overall), Thaiss has been a consistently above-average performer at every stop in his minor league career. He’s earned the reputation as a hit over power type of 1st baseman in his minor league career, but he may be tapping into his power more with an improved launch angle this year. His groundball rate has gone from the mid-upper 40% range to the low-mid 30% range this year and he very quietly has hit 10 HRs in just 263 PAs which is more than he hit all of 2017 in 606 PAs. Thaiss notably had a 2 for 4 day last Saturday with a HR, and then followed it up with a 4 for 5 day on Monday. His season line now sits at .301/.362/.523 with 10 HRs and 3 SBs in 263 PAs split between AA and AAA, and is supporting that with an 8.3% BB rate and a 17.4% K rate. He may be worth a shot in mid-sized dynasty leagues and could be a decent sleeper if these launch angle changes hold going forward.

Adam Garland

Adam is a marketing professional 9-5, but a fan and nerd of the beautiful game of baseball 24/7. He's known for his "Going Deep" articles on both MLB and MiLB players and has a strong reputation of identifying valuable players before the consensus. His passion though is MLB prospects, and he loves digging into scouting reports and dissecting the stats of prospects trying to understand what they mean. He plays in multiple dynasty leagues of varying sizes, and he hopes he can help with yours! He's also always up to talk baseball/prospects with anyone, so please don't hesitate to strike up a conversation here or @AdamGarlando on Twitter!

One response to “Prospect Roundup – Week 11”

  1. TheKraken says:

    Yordan Alvarez is back.

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