(Photo by David Kirouac/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.
Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox ) Age: 21, Level: AAA
Eloy Jimenez has been making a strong case recently to receive a promotion to the majors with big performances consistently at the AAA level. This week he has managed 8 hits in only 4 games with an even 2:2 strikeout to walk ratio while hitting 2 HRs in the process. His season slash line is now up to .341/.390/.605 with 18 HRs in 344 PAs split between AA and AAA. He’s been notably more impressive at AAA though with an amazing .387/.431/.698 with 8 HRs in just 116 PAs and is supporting it with a 6.9% walk rate and a 10.3% strikeout rate which has been worth a 215 wRC+. He has been dominating International League pitching, and he may be ready for a new challenge. Steamer projections on Fangraphs seem to think so as it has Jimenez projected for a .291/.337/.505 line rest of season at the MLB level if he were promoted which is worth a 128 wRC+.
Martinez was selected in the 3rd round back in 2016, and since then he actually hasn’t thrown a lot of professional innings with just 20.2 innings pitched between 2016 and 2017. He has finally been healthy and been given a chance to throw in a rotation consistently and he has responded with a 1.23 ERA over 36.2 innings this year. He notably had perhaps his best start of the season on Thursday of this week with a 5 shutout inning gem in which he did not allow a single hit or walk, and struck out 7 batters along the way. He’s known as a high spin rate pitcher but that hasn’t translated into elite swing and miss stuff this year as he has posted a below-average 7.1% swinging-strike rate and just a 6.38 K/9. He now has more K’s than innings pitched in his last 3 starts and he may be getting into a groove though and I think his skill set suggests he’s worth monitoring in deep dynasty leagues.
Wenceel Perez (SS, Detroit Tigers) Age: 18, Level: A-
Continuing with the Low-A discussion, one of the more intriguing players at that level has been Perez who has been red-hot after an initial slow start post promotion. Perez is now in the middle of a 6 game hitting streak, with 3 of those games being multi-hit efforts, while adding in a HR and 3 SBs along the way. He has raised his batting average from .143 on July 25th all the way to .278 today, and when you add in his dominant performance in the Gulf Coast League from earlier in the year in which he slashed .383/.462/.543 that was worth a 182 wRC+ over 93 PAs, you can see why he is trending up. He should be considered a lottery ticket type for those in deeper dynasty leagues.
The Marlins 1st round selection from a year ago, Rogers has had a fascinating 2018 season of ups and downs. He notably put together perhaps his best start of the year this past Sunday by going 7.2 innings, striking out 12 batters against 2 walks, and allowing just 1 hit and 0 ERs. This dominant start pushed Rogers’ season ERA down to 5.13 over 54.1 innings, and he’s racked up 65 strikeouts against 20 walks along the way. His 13.2% swinging strike rate is above-average and would rank among the top 10 in the league if he had enough innings to qualify, but his .390 BAPIP has led to an inflated batting average against. His 3.23 FIP and 3.24 xFIP suggests that he has been unlucky and that he deserves a better fate, and that perhaps there is some positive regression coming. If you are in need of pitching in deeper dynasty leagues, now may be a good time to buy low on a lefty with swing and miss skills and future projection left.
The son of Houston Astros legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, Cavan has been making a name for himself in his own right with a breakout 2018 season. The breakout continued this week with a 3 for 5 day on Wednesday that included 2 HRs and 5 RBIs. He now owns a solid .255/.399/.535 line with 23 HRs and 12 SBs and is supporting it with a crazy 19% walk rate and a 26.9% strikeout rate. That has been worth an impressive 154 wRC+ which ranks 2nd best in the Eastern League among qualified batters. His 10.1% swinging-strike rate is pretty good as a top 25 mark in the league and suggests that his high strikeout rate is more of a product of his extreme patience and that his contact skills should be able to translate going forward. He should be on radars in all medium-sized dynasty leagues and above!
The former #2 overall selection from a year ago, Greene has had an up and down sort of season that included being named to the Futures game where he was throwing 102.4 MPH fastballs. Unfortunately, his season is now coming to an end after being diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right pitching elbow. For the season, Greene will have a 4.48 ERA with 89 strikeouts against 23 walks over 68.1 innings pitched. His 12.8% swinging-strike rate was above-average and ranked as a top 20 mark in the Midwest League, and his 3.34 FIP and 3.19 xFIP both suggest that Greene was unlucky somewhat this year. He should be considered a top 50 overall prospect based on upside, but this injury may push him down offseason prospect lists as other guys perform and push past him.
Eddie Diaz (2B/SS, Colorado Rockies) Age: 18, Level: ROK
This is a deep league tout, but Eddie Diaz is doing some fun things in the Dominican Summer League for the 2nd year in a row. He has put together a .309/.417/.436 line to date in 2018 with 0 HRs but 54 SBs in just 223 PAs. He’s showing terrific patience with 13.9% walk rate along with a very good 7.6% strikeout rate which has led to a 147 wRC+ and is an impressive figure considering how little power he is hitting for. His 54 SBs are 7 more than the next highest in the league, and he’s only been caught 8 times for a very impressive 87.1% success rate on the bases. He’s super far away from the majors and his skill set will likely be challenged by more advanced pitchers as he moves up organizational levels, but his speed looks legit and in an era with less SBs attempts and successes, Diaz’s SB skills may make him a worthy prospect to grab in deep dynasty leagues.
The #15 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft, Bukauskas has bounced across many different levels as a professional but recently was promoted to A+ after posting a 4.20 ERA with 21 strikeouts against 7 walks over 15 innings at Single-A Quad Cities. He made his first start for the Buies Creek Astros in the Carolina League on Thursday and went 5 innings, striking out 5 against 2 walks, and allowing 2 ERs on 4 hits. This was not a terrific debut by any means, but the Astros are rewarding Busauskas for his swing and miss stuff including an elite 19.3% swinging-strike rate at single-A which carried into his first High-A start in which he managed a 17% swinging-strike rate. He has consistently produced better peripheral numbers than his ERA would suggest, and he could be a breakout candidate if he is able to settle in at a level for a longer stretch of time. He should be on radars in medium-sized dynasty leagues and above.
Ronaldo Hernandez (C, Tampa Bay Rays) Age: 20, Level: A
Hernandez has been on fire recently at the plate and is making a case for being one of the better catching prospects for fantasy baseball going forward. He recently put together a great game on Thursday in which he went 3 for 5 with 2 HRs and 3 RBI. He now has a .294/.342/.523 batting line this year in the Midwest League with 18 HRs and 7 SBs. He may not walk a ton with just a 6.4% rate this year, but his contact skills are good enough to be aggressive at the plate as he’s striking out at just a 15.8% clip and supporting that with a roughly average 11.6% swinging-strike rate. All told he’s been worth an impressive 140 wRC+ which ranks in a tie for 7th best in the league with Royce Lewis of the Minnesota Twins organization. Hernandez is also likely to stick behind the plate long term which makes him a good catcher to bet on in dynasty leagues.
The 11th overall selection in the 2018 MLB draft, Rodriguez has started off his professional career on the right foot by having not allowed an earned run to date over 12 innings pitched. He has now pitched in 6 games and again given up 0 earned runs so far. Over the 12 innings pitched, he has racked up 10 strikeouts against 5 walks which are both fairly unimpressive and likely the reason that FIP and xFIP don’t buy his success to date much with 3.36 and 4.16 marks respectively. He offers a 5 pitch mix with all of the offerings receiving average or better grades along with average command. This is the sort of profile that if a breaking ball or two tick up, then there may be a stud here or if he simply reaches his basic potential, there is probably a quality mid-back of the rotation starter. His wicked 27.1% swinging-strike rate to date suggests his ceiling is pretty high.