Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: As Vladimir Guerrero graduation nears, a few other promotions bear mentioning
Vladimir Guerrero's impending arrival consumes all prospect talk for now, but Scott White has some other nuggets for your perusal.
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Oh, thank goodness.
Vladimir Guerrero is confirmed to be coming up Friday, which ends my own personal nightmare of having to name him the No. 1 prospect to stash again. We were nearing a full calendar year of that, so way to keep things close to the vest, Blue Jays.
For all the buildup, there's less to say about his promotion than you might think. I've, but the fact is he's already universally owned. His numbers are ridiculous. He's expected to be an instant success, which is why he was drafted so high. Everything else is just waiting for it to unfold.
So I'd like to mention some other call-up news that may have flown under the radar for the average Fantasy player in the average Fantasy league. None of it requires immediate action outside of dynasty or league-specific formats, I don't think, but it's all worth monitoring. There's upside that could make an impact in the long run.
- It sounds like Taylor Hearn will take at least one turn in the Rangers rotation Thursday. He's a hard-throwing lefty with all the control issues you'd expect from such but has had no issues missing at-bats in the minors, having averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings over his career and recorded 26 strikeouts in 20 innings this year. There will be growing pains, but seeing as he's already 24, it's not exactly a rush job.
- Justus Sheffield will come up to make an extended relief appearance Thursday in what's expected to be a short start for Yusei Kikuchi, who will take abbreviated turns on occasion as a way to preserve his innings. Sheffield was on every top prospect list this spring and is regarded as having one of the best fastballs in the minors, but he has 14 walks to 11 strikeouts at Triple-A so far, and that isn't totally out of character for him.
- Ty France is up to give the Padres an extra bat off the bench after beginning the year 33 for 78 (.423) with nine home runs at Triple-A. He's a bat-first prospect, which means he was likely overlooked by traditional rank lists, but finding playing time will be a challenge for him. He wasn't great at third base, where the Padres now have $300 million reasons not to use him, and efforts to transition him to second base are incomplete, to say the least.
Again, they're interesting, but when it comes to stashing prospects, expected impact is of nearly as much importance as timetable, which is why I wouldn't have considered any of the three for my ...
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Nick Senzel, 2B, Reds
2018 minors: .310 BA (171 AB), 6 HR, 8 SB, .887 OPS, 19 BB, 39 K
2019 minors: 2 for 8, 2B, 3 K
Welcome to the dawn of the post-Vlad era, Nick Senzel. And welcome to the 2019 season, seeing as he just returned from an ankle sprain that dated back to spring training. Seems like the plan is still to transition him to center field even though there'd be no questioning his readiness at the presently Scooter Gennett-less second base. Scott Schebler won't be much of roadblock, either offensively or defensively, once Senzel is ready, so it's probably just a matter of the 23-year-old getting his legs back under him. The second overall pick in 2016 has been a top 10 prospect for Baseball America three years running.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Athletics
2018 minors: 10-5, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 109 1/3 IP, 30 BB, 129 K
2019 spring: 0-0, 0.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9 2/3 IP, 4 BB, 15 K
A strained shoulder has kept Luzardo off the mound since March 21, but he's progressing toward a return, having recently upped his throwing from 75 feet to 90. He's probably still a month away from game action, so stashing him is a long-term commitment. The upside and the assurance that the Athletics want him in their rotation, having given him a legitimate chance of winning a job this spring, make him well worth the wait, though. Besides, indefinite waits are to be expected in the world of prospect stashing. If we knew one was only a week away from debuting, he wouldn't so available to stash.
Yordan Alvarez, OF, Astros
2018 minors: .293 BA (335 AB), 20 HR, 21 2B, .904 OPS, 42 BB, 92 K
2019 minors: .333 BA (63 AB), 10 HR, 4 2B, 1.320 OPS, 12 BB, 13 K
Since our last check a week ago, Alvarez has added three homers and 15 points to his batting average. I've already compared his 2019 start to Juan Soto's 2018 start, and so far he hasn't come back down to earth. Like with Soto, the plate discipline is what pushes him over the top and may ultimately convince the Astros to take the plunge. They could clearly use him given that their three-way platoon of Jake Marisnick, Tyler White and Tony Kemp has yielded little of value so far. While White has picked up the production of late and Marisnick has always been a good defender, neither is the sort of player that would slow the momentum of a surging prospect.
Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
2018 minors: .280 BA (493 AB), 16 HR, 31 2B, .801 OPS, 58 BB, 109 K
2019 minors: .379 BA (66 AB), 3 HR, 6 2B, 1.142 OPS, 16 BB, 20 K
Kieboom drops behind Alvarez in his third week among the Five on the Verge. His production has slowed a little, and with every week the Nationals hold out, Trea Turner is that much closer to returning. Even if you consider second base to be the more likely path for the 21-year-old, Brian Dozier is beginning to show signs of life, and Howie Kendrick himself is becoming difficult to take out of the lineup. It could still happen for Kieboom, which is why he's still here, but it doesn't appear imminent.
Cavan Biggio, 2B, Blue Jays
2018 minors: .252 BA (449 AB), 26 HR, 20 SB, .887 OPS, 100 BB, 148 K
2019 minors: .415 BA (53 AB), 3 HR, 2 SB, 1.142 OPS, 10 BB, 10 K
Now that the Blue Jays have popped the lid on Vladimir Guerrero, how about the son of another hall of famer? Biggio was a surprise breakthrough a year ago and continues to expand his bag of tricks. He added to his fly balls last year, resulting in a power boost, and has subtracted from his ground balls this year, resulting in a BABIP boost. With excellent plate discipline to round it out, he's showing few weaknesses offensively, and at age 24, he's already burning up some of his prime years. True, Lourdes Gurriel may be ahead of him in the pecking order, but the Blue Jays could always transition Gurriel to a utility role.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
2018 minors: .330 BA (482 AB), 27 HR, 32 2B, .985 OPS, 68 BB, 90 K
2019 minors: .293 BA (58 AB), 3 HR, 7 2B, 1.001 OPS, 13 BB, 16 K
If the previous section was Six on the Verge rather than five, Lowe would probably be the next man up. Aside from a tape-measure home run, he had a forgettable spring but seems to have straightened things out at Triple-A.
"He's made some nice adjustments here early in the season," Durham manager Brady Williams told Baseball America. "He's been pitched pretty tough."
Most notable was his performance against a rehabbing Mike Foltynewicz on Sunday in which he singled twice and homered, prompting one scout to say "you could put him in the big leagues tomorrow." Problem is that between Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi, the Rays don't have a great need at first base.
Brendan McKay, SP/1B, Rays
2018 minors: 5-2, 2.41 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 78 1/3 IP, 14 BB, 103 K
2019 minors: 0-0, 3.29 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 13 2/3 IP, 3 BB, 27 K
Notice I didn't even list McKay's stats as a hitter this time. That's because it's a joke he's still attempting this two-way thing given the way he's been pitching. The gap between the two facets only he seems to widen as he moves up the ladder, and it's to a point now where he might become the best pitching prospect in baseball if he could devote his full attention to it. He's not far off as it is — in his first go at Double-A, which is often considered the most difficult step up the minor-league ladder, he's averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning. If strikeout-to-walk ratio is your thing, this is your guy.
Casey Mize, SP, Tigers
2018 minors: 0-1, 3.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 13 2/3 IP, 3 BB, 14 K
2019 minors: 2-0, 0.35 ERA, 0.31 WHIP, 26 IP, 1 BB, 25 K
The No. 1 overall pick from a year ago is certainly looking the part in his first taste of full-season ball, having allowed just 2.7 base runners per nine innings through his first four starts. That'd be a good rate for walks alone. In three of his four starts, he has given up just one hit, and it's clear that his four-pitch arsenal and command of that arsenal are way too good for A ball. And if that's the case, the 21-year-old may be looking at a quick climb and a 2020 debut.
2018 minors: .252 BA (139 AB), 0 HR, 3 SB, .659 OPS, 12 BB, 23 K
2019 minors: .343 BA (67 AB), 2 HR, 3 SB, .947 OPS, 11 BB, 13 K
The third overall pick last year failed to impress in his professional debut, which was the last thing the Phillies needed after the Mickey Moniak debacle, but he has come roaring back this April. It's worth noting that publications like Baseball America never lost faith in the 22-year-old, ranking him second among Phillies prospects and 65th among all prospects this spring. Bohm offers big power with a keen batting eye and could move quickly now that both are on full display.
Will Benson, OF, Indians
2018 minors: .180 BA (416 AB), 22 HR, 12 SB, .694 OPS, 82 BB, 152 K
2019 minors: .345 BA (55 AB), 6 HR, 7 SB, 1.228 OPS, 10 BB, 26 K
A four-homer game at any level is reason to sit up and take notice, and Benson delivered one of those last Thursday. The combination of power and speed makes him an especially attractive prospect to stash away in traditional Rotisserie leagues, but it's one of those risk/reward profiles that's accompanied by a frighteningly high strikeout rate. A disciplined approach and high exit velocities may be enough for Benson to overcome it, and at age 20, he has plenty of time to figure it out.
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