Fantasy Baseball: Minor league barometer sees Nathaniel Lowe, Luis Patino improving their stock

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You've seen Scott White's Prospects Report every week here at CBS Fantasy all season long. Now, with our partners from RotoWire, we'll be publishing a Minor League Barometer column every two weeks, taking a deep look at who is helping their Fantasy stock, who is hurting it, and who you need to keep an eye on. 

Several notable minor leaguers have made their way to the bigs over the past week or so. Two former high-profile hurlers started their first MLB games Monday, as Touki Toussaint brought his blazing fastball to the Braves, while Sean Reid-Foley took the hill for the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, the rebuilding Orioles saw a dazzling debut from toolsy outfielder Cedric Mullins, who went 3-for 4 with two RBI and three runs. Mullins should start in center field for the remainder of the season.

However, the true phenoms are being held back for the time being — specifically Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez. Here's what's up with them: 

  • Vlad Jr. is "only" hitting .400 on the season, though a knee injury robbed him of a month and could serve as an excuse for the Blue Jays to let him finish off the 2018 campaign in the minors.
  • The fireballing Kopech was supposed to be working on control issues, though he hasn't walked a batter in three of his last four starts at Triple-A. He also leads the International League in strikeouts by a wide margin.
  • Jimenez missed some time earlier this season due to injury but is hitting .354 at Triple-A with 10 home runs in 34 games. Of the trio, he might be the closest to getting promoted.

Gaining an extra year of team control is a big deal with these superstar players, but in terms of production, there is no question that all three belong in the majors right now. We will see if their respective organizations give them a taste of the big leagues in September or simply bide their time and wait until 2019.

Let's take a look at the rest of the prospect scene in this edition of the Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, TB

Lowe is currently on his third different level this season and is having a breakout campaign. He started off the year at High-A, where he mashed to the tune of a .356/.432/.588 slash line. The 23-year-old had 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 51 games, and accumulated nearly as many walks as strikeouts. That resulted in a bump to Double-A, where Lowe was just as sensational. He slashed .342/.446/.610 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI in 50 games for Double-A Montgomery. The notoriously conservative Rays had no choice but to promote him to Triple-A, where he has continued to rake. Lowe is 7-for-22 (.318) with one home run and five RBI through five games with Triple-A Durham. The rebuilding Rays currently have Jake Bauers and C.J. Cron at first base, but Bauers has played outfield in the past, and Cron will be arbitration eligible this offseason. Lowe was a 13th-round selection in the 2016 draft but has quickly played his way into the future plans for the Rays.


Luis Patino, P, SD

Patino is having a breakout season of his own, as the teenager has made mincemeat of the competition at Low-A. The 18-year-old righty has a 2.39 ERA and 86:20 K:BB in 71.2 innings at this level. He has been even better over his last 10 outings, sporting a 2.01 ERA and 63:13 K:BB, a span of 49.1 innings. The Padres have several highly touted hurlers in the system (MacKenzie Gore, Michael Baez, Logan Allen, just to name a few) but perhaps no starter has helped their cause more than Patino in the San Diego organization in 2018. Patino's fastball reaches 95mph, and his curveball and changeup can both be wipeout offerings. Patino could rise rapidly through the system in 2019.

Deivi Garcia, P, NYY

While Garcia is among the lesser-known arms in the New York Yankees system, his strikeout numbers jump off the page. The 19-year-old fanned 63 batters in 40 innings at Low-A to begin the 2018 campaign. He has since jumped up to High-A, where he has enjoyed just as much, if not greater success. In two starts, he has allowed just one earned run while notching a 19:3 K:BB. He was brilliant in his last start at High-A, tossing seven no-hit innings. Garcia did not walk a batter while fanning 12. It was the second time in 2018 that he struck out 12 batters in a single outing. Garcia has a slight frame but possesses three pitches, including a stellar curveball and emerging changeup. His command has been awfully impressive in 2018, and opposing batters are hitting a putrid .176 overall against him this season. Garcia won't hit the big leagues for another couple of years, but he has tremendous upside.

Luis Gonzalez, OF, CHW

Gonzalez had a poor introduction to professional ball after being drafted in the third round in 2017. However, he has flipped the script in 2018, hitting over .300 across two levels in the Chicago White Sox organization. The 22-year-old lefty hit .300/.358/.491 with eight home runs, 26 RBI and seven steals in 55 games at Low-A. Gonzalez received a promotion to High-A, where he has not stopped hitting. Gonzalez has cranked an additional five home runs and driven in 33 runs in 42 games at his new level, all while hitting .305. Gonzalez has shown decent power and even some speed, though his pure hit tool was his best-known asset while at the University of New Mexico. The White Sox have some monster outfielders ahead of him in the minors (Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert), but it is clear Gonzalez has reversed his fortunes in 2018.

CHECK STATUS

Joe Palumbo, P, TEX

Palumbo recently returned to action after undergoing Tommy John surgery and has picked up right where he left off. In five starts since returning from injury, Palumbo has a 3.32 ERA and 25:3 K:BB. The stellar control is particularly encouraging, as many hurlers struggle with location in the first few months of coming back to live-game action. Palumbo will turn 24 this offseason, and has yet to pitch 100 innings in a single year, so it remains to be seen if the southpaw can stay healthy. That being said, the 30th-round pick in the 2013 draft has already defied expectations, and may even be considered the top pitching prospect in the Texas system before the year is finished.

Ryan Noda, OF, TOR

Noda's best trait is his eye at the dish; the 6-foot-3 lefty has drawn 91 walks at Low-A en route to a .422 OBP. Noda has also shown some pop with 16 home runs, and the ability to swipe a bag with 12 steals. He has been particularly productive of late, hitting .290 with five home runs, 16 RBI and three steals over his last 10 contests. Noda did not hit particularly well even in college at Cincinnati, though, and his average is just .259 through 104 games. As such, it remains to be seen if he will hit for enough average at the higher levels. Noda has exceptional plate discipline but must prove he can consistently do more to become part of the future in Toronto.

Nick Neidert, P, MIA

Neidert came over from the Mariners as part of the Dee Gordon trade, and he has been exceptional in his first full season in the Miami organization. Neidert has a 3.23 ERA and 133:27 K:BB in 128 innings at Double-A. Though Neidert can be slightly hittable at times (including surrendering 14 home runs in 22 starts), he has superb control of three pitches and the ability to miss bats. Neidert fanned 13 batters in his first start in August. He does not possess an overpowering fastball, though, so Neidert's upside may not be viewed as high as some other hurlers in the system. That being said, he has enjoyed success at virtually every stop in the minors, and the Marlins certainly need all the help they can get.

Jhoan Duran, P, MIN

Duran came over from the Diamondbacks organization in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and had quite the introduction. He tossed seven no-hit innings in his debut at Low-A Cedar Rapids, fanning eight batters while walking just one. Duran is a work in progress and is still learning how to pitch, but he's 6-foot-5, throws hard, and has a wipeout pitch in the form of a curveball. His changeup needs work, but the ceiling is extremely high for the 20-year-old, who has also shown better command of late as well. In 18.1 innings since switching organizations, Duran has walked just four batters, and the opposition is hitting a measly .161 against him.

DOWNGRADE

Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN

Trammell had been scuffling since his appearance at the Futures Game, and has now landed on the Disabled List with concussion symptoms. Over his 10 games prior to the injury, the toolsy outfielder was batting just .237. Then Trammell had an unfortunate meeting with the wall last Tuesday, and took the worst of the contact. The top prospects for the Reds have had a rough season, as Nick Senzel missed most of the season and now Hunter Greene has also been shut down for the remainder of the 2018 campaign due to a sprained UCL. That means the Reds have lost arguably their top three prospects to injury in recent months, though Trammell should end up returning to the field before the end of the 2018 season.

Adrian Morejon, P, SD

It has been a rough 2018 for Morejon, one of the bevy of starting pitchers on the San Diego farm. Morejon already spent time on the disabled list earlier this season due to a hip issue and now finds himself back on the shelf due to a triceps injury. Fortunately, Morejon is not dealing with a UCL ailment, meaning his time riding the pine should be rather short. That being said, the 19-year-old southpaw has pitched just 62.2 innings at High-A in 2018, and concern that the injury bug will become a chronic issue for Morejon cannot be ruled out.

Dillon Tate, P, BAL

Tate has all but lost his prospect luster. The 24-year-old is now with his third different organization despite being a top 10 pick in the 2015 draft. Tate was part of the package sent to the Orioles from the Yankees in exchange for Zach Britton. Tate has been blown up in three starts at Double-A since the deal, allowing 15 runs in 17.1 innings. Tate was having a resurgent season prior to the trade, sporting a respectable 3.38 ERA and 75:25 K:BB in 82.2 innings. The wheels have clearly come off for Tate recently, though the sample size is small. Nevertheless, the days of Tate being viewed as anything close to an elite prospect are all but gone.

Michael Hermosillo, OF, LAA

Sure, the Angels have Mike Trout most of the time, and he covers up a lot of inadequacies in the outfield. However, the fact remains that Trout is currently hurt and Kole Calhoun has had a down season despite a recent hot stretch. Though the Angels have done a poor job in stocking their farm system in recent years, they have some outfield help on the way in the form of Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh and perhaps even Jahmai Jones. Unfortunately, those outfielders are not quite ready. Hermosillo might be, though he is currently on the DL with a groin injury. He's a former two-sport high school star who chose baseball in 2013 but has faced a slow grind to this level. He has plus-speed but hasn't really shown it in 2018, and he's hit for more power than ever this season, which can likely be attributed to the hitter-friendly confines of the California League. Hermosillo could be back with the big club in September, but he does not have the upside of the other aforementioned younger outfielders in the system.

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