The Prospect Watchlist: Week 5 (May 7 – May 13)

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

With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four minor league 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 an 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: OF Yanquiel Fernandez, COL, High A 

Stats: (6 games) 14-27, 3 HR, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 10 RBI, 7 runs

Yanquiel’s name should be familiar if you were a regular reader last season. I spotlighted him during the week of August 7, 2022, teasing him as the next potential Rockie to break out after Ezequiel Tover and Adael Amador. Seems like I was onto something as Fernandez did get that promotion to High A Spokane to start this season and after a slow start, has gotten back to doing the things that first put him on my radar.

The swing has remained the same as last season to increasingly outstanding results. I am curious how that coil pre-stride plays against better breaking balls and change-ups; how often will Fernandez be out in front or potentially rolling over a well-crafted slider or curve out of the zone? That said, his stride is fluid towards the pitch and his hand separation is top notch. There’s a lot of trust in his hands to get through the zone and to the ball quickly; a quick search of Fernandez highlights from this season and last delivers quite a few opposite field homers and base hits off of pitcher’s pitches. It shows that Fernandez has some powerful wrists to go along with that swing. As of right now, his arrow is pointing straight up.

Honorable Mention: C Dalton Rushing, LAD, High A 

Stats: (6 games) 8-22, 3 HR, 3 doubles, 5 RBI, 6 runs

I was a huge fan of Rushing’s after seeing reports of his elite EVs to go along with his power output in his condensed pro debut in Low A after being drafted last season by the Dodgers. I was eager to see if he would pick up where he left off this year in facing more appropriate competition. Suffice to say Rushing has availed himself well. I don’t think his move to AA Tulsa can be denied for much longer, when looking at his .275/.453/.569 line along with his 7 homers and 7 doubles. Whether he remains as a backstop remains to be seen but I think Rushing can hit more than capably enough to pass as a MLB first baseman for real-life and fantasy purposes. 

This Week’s Pitcher to Watch: SP Jacob Misiorowski, MIL, Low A 

Stats: (2 starts) 7.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 2 BB, 14 Ks

I’ve talked elsewhere about how I just didn’t do enough due diligence on Misiorowski leading into my own league’s FYP draft this offseason or else I would’ve targeted him specifically. I did have him slotted right after Brandon Barriera and before Owen Murphy but he probably deserved to be within my personal top 5. Thanks to his ostrich-like physique, Misiorowski has an extremely deceptive release backed by a complement of pitches that he has the ability to command and control in Low A.

H/t to @BrewersPD for velo readings but you can tell just from the video how uncomfortable at-bats vs. Misiorowksi seem to be. Granted, this is a college junior draftee dominating against teens but you can’t hold the assignment against him. He’s doing exactly what he should be, given the level of competition. The one considerable question mark I have for him in the short term is when he’ll get taken off of the short leash. So far his longest outing as a professional was his most recent, going 4 innings exact on May 13. It’ll be difficult for him to get stretched out as a starter with so many short stints but the Brewers have enough of a track record that I’d suggest trusting in them to do right by Misiorowski. He could very well end up the star pitcher of his draft class.

Honorable Mention: SP Emerson Hancock, SEA, AA

Stats: (2 starts) 10 IP, 2 ER, 6 hits, 4 BB, 13 Ks

Apologies are in order to Hancock, who I was officially out on after a less than satisfying 2022. Hancock was long considered the last of Seattle’s burgeoning Big 3, alongside George Kirby and Logan Gilbert. But while both Kirby and Gilbert moved quickly through the system and have solidified themselves as members of the Mariners’ rotation, Hancock struggled with his effectiveness, befuddling analysts who had long praised his stuff with sub-optimal strikeout numbers (8.42 K/9, 13.1 K-BB%). This year, something seems to have clicked as his K/9 has jumped into double digits for the first time in his career while the K-BB% is at 21% (still ordinary but a massive leap given the context). Along with that spike has come an increase in walk rate but Hancock continues to tap into gaining whiffs, seeing his SwStr bump up a couple points to 14.1%. All together, Hancock may have been usurped by Bryce Miller as part of Seattle’s next great rotation but there still a solid back-end starter with mid-rotation upside flashing. Could be a cheap target to add and hope for more improvements through the year.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login