The Prospect Watchlist: Week 4 (April 30 – May 6)

4 Potential Hidden Gems to Know Before the Rest of Your League

With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four levels (not to mention the Dominican Summer League and the Rookie Complex leagues in Arizona and Florida), identifying the next prospect breakout can be difficult. If you wait until end-of-season wrap-ups, a prospect may get too much coverage and no longer be available. You can scout stat lines all year, but that can be tedious, and it’s difficult to keep an eye on every tweet and post. We may have renamed this column but fear not, intrepid dynasty league manager, this is still THE place to find your potential prospect diamonds in the rough.

For those unfamiliar, this is a weekly column where I’ll select four prospects (typically 2 hitters and 2 pitchers) who performed outstandingly in the prior week. Not only will you get a name, but also we’ll dive into what powered their results and where their future value stands. “But,” you may think to yourself, “what makes this column so different than any of the countless other blurbs, rundowns, and general prospect lists that are published?” Glad you asked!

First and foremost, this column is dedicated to the deep dynasty manager. If you’re in a 18 team league, or rostering 30+ minor leaguers, then this is your spot.

Secondly, and I don’t want to honk my horn (toot toot) but in year 1, we had a pretty solid track record of recognizing some names that have risen in value entering this season including: Kyle Manzardo, Yainer Diaz, Evan Carter, Justin Dirden, and Will Benson.

With that said, let’s get to this week’s prospects…

This Week’s Player to Watch: 1B/OF DJ Gladney, CHW, High A

Stats: (5 games) 8-19, 3 HR, 4 doubles, 10 RBI, 5 runs, 0 SB

After talking up AA wunderkind Cristian Mena last week, I’m back in the Chicago White Sox farm system to give plaudits to corner bat DJ Gladney. Gladney is a natural masher but he’s showing some improvements that could make him more valuable in dynasty than at the beginning of his pro season. For starters, Gladney’s 72% contact rate is a career high and if he can maintain that type of rate in the upper minors along with keeping around a 40% FB, he has a recipe to deliver a passable average for the majors.

Secondly, Gladney’s 2022 finished as part of the well-covered “Project Birmingham” development project the White Sox instituted with their top prospects last season. TL;DR version – Chicago promoted top prospects from Low and High A affiliates (whose season was already completely) to AA Birmingham, to have a centralized developmental camp play out in the last few weeks of the AA season. Colas, Colson Montgomery, and the aforementioned Mena were also among attendees. Gladney struggled against the advanced pitching but it seems like he was able to use those struggles during live ABs and the work with White Sox coaches to good use this season.

His swing covers most of the zone well, he is showing breaking ball recognition and he has power to all fields. 18.5% SwStr is concerning but is still a career low and while his BABIP is higher than average, it doesn’t seem inflated (.367). It’s important to remember that as a draft pick out of high school, Gladney is only in his year-22 season with 5 pro seasons under his belt. I’ll be circling Gladney’s name and waiting to see him at AA Birmingham proper later this year.

Honorable Mention: OF Jonny DeLuca, LAD, AA 

Stats: (5 games) 11-21, 3 HR, 5 doubles, 7 RBI, 5 runs, 3 SBs 

DeLuca jumped on deep league radars last season with his impressive and unexpected 25 combined HRs between High A and AA along with 17 combined stolen bases. Not only does DeLuca have major pull-side power and speed, he’s continuously shown an above average hit tool through his minor league career. The Dodgers have had him repeat levels and it’s typically the second season that brings the best performance but with how DeLuca ended ’22 and has started 2023 (.284/.376/.598, 150 wRC+) he could be on the accelerated path to the major leagues.  


This Week’s Pitcher to Watch: SP Kumar Rocker, TEX, High A

Stats: (1 start) 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 hit, 2 BB, 8 Ks

File this one under “You Love to See It” as Rocker seems to have completely shaken off his rust from the Arizona Fall League and Spring Training, finally returning to the dominant starter we remember from his collegiate days. Here’s where he ranks among High A pitchers ( ≥20Ip) in some key areas:

2nd in Ks (37)

2nd in K-BB% (34.4%)

Tied for 8th in WHIP (0.90)

1st in FIP (1.49) and 3rd in xFIP (2.17)

The next test will be how Rocker looks in AA but so far, the Rangers’ draft day gamble seems to be paying off. Likewise, fantasy managers who stuck with Rocker are currently reaping the benefits of rostering a top of rotation talent.

Honorable Mention: SP Kyle Luckham, WAS, High A

Stats: (1 start) 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 hits, 1 BB, 9 Ks

While Rocker is a highly pedigreed top of rotation talent dominating High A, Luckham is the 441st pick in the 2021 draft who’s proven equally dominant at the level. Sporting a razor-thin 1.29 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, Luckham as used his arsenal to generate a 15.2% SwStr rate which is important as his fastball is less than stellar in the velocity department. However, his ability to throw his mid 70s curveball for a strike in any count definitely helps. There’s considerable reliever risk here; Luckham was a reliever in college and his first couple of pro seasons, in addition his mechanics are not the cleanest regarding his arm action into release which could be partial reason for low fastball velo. The Nationals don’t have any record of pitching development (no, Stephen Strasburg doesn’t count) so it’s up to your belief that Luckham as to how soon you’re willing to add. 



LaMar Gibson

A lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan that still hasn't forgiven Jeffrey Maier, Tony Fernandez, the 2014 Royals, or Edwin Encarnacion...and has no interest in doing so in the foreseeable future. You can read more of LaMar's thoughts by subscribing to his free monthly newsletter, Inside Fastball, for all things prospects.

One response to “The Prospect Watchlist: Week 4 (April 30 – May 6)”

  1. martin mcgrath says:

    always a great article Lamar…ty

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