Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report: 10 prospects to get on your radar
Chris Towers offers a different take, analyzing five prospects you should know about and five more under-the-radar possibilities.
Every week, Scott White gives you his Prospects Report column, focusing on five prospects to stash, and five more to keep an eye on. With Scott out this week, I'm taking over the column, and I'll be taking a bit of a different angle for this piece. Here are 10 players in either Double-A or Triple-A who haven't been covered in this space, beginning with five top prospects you need to know about, along with five more under-the-radar guys who could be Fantasy relevant as soon as this season.
Five top prospects to know
1. Christian Pache, OF, Atlanta Braves
Pache is by no means under the radar in prospect circles, but it's high time Fantasy players get acquainted with him. The track record looks thoroughly mediocre before this season, but scouts have long suspected a breakout was coming. Well, it's here. Pache has hit .289/.344/.491 as a 20-year-old in Double-A, and while he no longer seems to profile as a prolific base stealer, he's starting to tap into the raw power. A 2019 callup seems unlikely given how patient the Braves have been with their top prospects in recent years, but if something were to happen to Ronald Acuña, Pache's projected Gold Glove defense could get him a chance.
If it wasn't for a knee injury, Murphy might already be a Fantasy mainstay. Before undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus, Murphy was hitting .324/.402/.459 at Triple-A, and has nine homers, 31 doubles and a .295 average in 90 games between Double-A and Triple-A since the start of 2018. There's the potential for a plus bat at catcher here, and he could be up in the second half of the season if he gets healthy.
3. Gavin Lux, SS, LAD
The Dodgers are another organization that typically wants its top prospects to get to Triple-A before making the call, and they don't exactly have a huge need at second base with the versatility and depth on the big-league roster. However, with Corey Seager going down with a hamstring issue and Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez struggling, it's not impossible to see a path to playing time. Lux has turned into a tremendous hitter and might be a top-25 prospect in all of baseball by the time mid-season lists come out, and Fantasy players need to know about him now, too. He has hit .311/.375/.524 in 82 career games at Double-A, including 17 homers. He's still at shortstop for now, though there are serious questions about whether he will stick there. Still, if the Dodgers want to get aggressive, his lack of struggles at Double-A make you wonder how much he has left to learn down there.
Scouts are still waiting for the power to show up for Sanchez, but boy can he hit. A .302 average in 2019 is right in line with his .306 career mark, and he's started to show a bit better plate discipline, with a 7.9% walk rate getting close to passable. And as for the power? Well, we've seen how the ball is flying out in Triple-A and the majors this season, and he's still at Double-A. The power breakout may come naturally as he climbs the ladder, creating the profile of a potential difference-making bat. Even if, as with anyone in the Rays' organization, it's hard to see quite how he breaks into the lineup anytime soon.
5. Nick Solak, 2B, Rays
A trade seems inevitable with all of the Rays' young infielders, and I'd like to see Solak get a chance to play everyday, something that might be tough in the Rays' organization. Solak's power increase in 2019 seems likely to be the result of the juiced ball in Triple-A, but he hit 19 homers in 2018, so it's not like he doesn't have any pop. What he does have is a strong average profile, hitting .295 in his minor-league career, and the potential for some stolen bases, averaging 18 steals per 150 games. If Solak gets a chance, you'll want to be there for it.
Five under-the-radar prospects to watch
Faedo may not be the most interesting prospect among Tigers pitchers, but that may be as much a testament to where this system is than it is a mark against Faedo. After proving surprisingly hittable in his professional debut last season, Faedo has baffled hitters in Double-A in 2019, with 82 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 65.2 innings. He hasn't been perfect, of course, as the 3.70 ERA — largely the result of 11 homers — attests. However, even that issue has been mostly concentrated to two starts where he allowed seven homers combined. With Matt Manning and Casey Mize also dominating in Double-A, the Tigers could have a really interesting rotation really soon. Like, as soon as this summer. Don't ignore Faedo as the hype builds around the other two.
I'm not sure why the Indians are so content to get league-worst production from the outfield this season, but given how long it took them to call up Oscar Mercado, it seems like an organizational philosophy more than an accident. Mercado has worked out well for them so far, but they're still running Leonys Martin and Jake Bauers' sub-.650 OPS out there every day, so there's clearly still room to improve. Johnson appears to have figured out how to tap into his considerable tools, sporting a .269/.348/.537 line this season, and he represents exactly the kind of profile the Indians should welcome as they try to salvage their season. Nothing else has worked, so why not see if this breakout is real?
Menez wasn't on many prospect radars before the season, not even cracking MLB.com's top-30 list for the franchise. However, the 24-year-old lefty has worked his way up to Triple-A thanks to a strong start to the season. Sporting an 11.3 K/9 between 2018 and 2019, the biggest improvement he's made has been an improvement in command. With this kind of strikeout ability and a future home in Oracle Park, Menez has the profile of someone who could be a surprise Fantasy contributor as soon as this summer — after all, a Madison Bumgarner trade seems inevitable.
Braymer's conversion to starting pitcher seems to have gone better than expected, as he has posted a 2.55 ERA in 12 starts at Double-A, averaging better than six innings per start. Even with the move to the rotation underway, most scouts prior to this season have tabbed Braymer for a future bullpen role, largely due to a limited arsenal, consistently most of a low-90s fastball and a plus curveball. It's only 12 starts, so it's too early to say that has changed, but he has made it through six innings in eight of those starts, a good sign that he's doing enough to turn lineups over multiple times. It will be interesting to see how updated scouting reports on Braymer sound because if he has developed his changeup into an averaging offering, this could be real.
5. Eli Morgan, SP, Indians
Here's what FanGraphs had to say about Morgan before the season:
"He's on this list because he has one of the better changeups in the minors and throws a lot of strikes, but he'll need to exhibit a velocity bounce-back this year to remain here, or else show that he has traits that make his fastball playable despite the lackluster velo."
With a 1.83 ERA through 69 innings, it's safe to say he's found something that works. It sounds like a Trevor Richards-esque profile with that elite changeup and middling offerings otherwise, and Richards has established himself as a useful Fantasy option, albeit an erratic one. What Morgan has that Richards doesn't is control, with a 6.5% walk rate in 2019 and a 6.1% career rate. There are starting to be some rumbles about the Indians selling, and if Morgan keeps this pace up as he continues to move through Double-A, maybe we'll see him sometime in the summer.
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