Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Could Eloy Jimenez be nearing a promotion?
The recent promotion of Juan Soto has Scott White thinking big with top five prospects to stash. Meanwhile, Alex Reyes is about to take the majors by storm.
When I added Juan Soto to the top five prospects to stash last week, I figured it was a high-impact but low-probability move. The chances of him forcing the issue at some point made him worth a speculative add, even knowing the wait could be a while.
Turns out it was less than a week.
From last week's group, he, Willy Adames and Nick Kingham all got the call, and though Kingham has since returned to the minors, he's still out of the top five with Joe Musgrove due back from injury Friday.
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So there's an opportunity for several new names to break into the top prospects to stash. And for this list, you can bet I'm focusing on highest potential impact.
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Alex Reyes, SP, Cardinals
2016 majors: 4-1, 1.57 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 46 IP, 23 BB, 52 K
2018 minors: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, 23 IP, 8 BB, 44 K
Including Reyes here isn't totally kosher since he's obviously on a rehab assignment that obviously just reached its conclusion with Thursday's seven-inning, one-hit, 13-strikeout gem. And oh, by the way, it was the third straight rehab start in which he allowed just one hit while recording at least 12 strikeouts. Safe to say he's suffering no ill effects from last season's Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals have already confirmed he'll be in the starting rotation when he comes off the DL, with Tuesday being the target date. Given the eye-popping display of talent over the past couple weeks, who he's replacing -- which won't even be an issue until Carlos Martinez returns from the DL -- is a secondary concern.
2017 minors: .323 BA (437 AB), 13 HR, 28 2B, .910 OPS, 76 BB, 62 K
2018 minors: .425 BA (160 AB), 8 HR, 17 2B, 1.172 OPS, 18 BB, 17 K
With each passing week, Guerrero's too-good-to-be true batting average gets even better, his .480 (12 for 25) mark over the past week raising his May batting average to .469 and his season batting average to .425.
"He's doing OK," Double-A New Hampshire manager John Schneider told Sports Illustrated in between giggles earlier this month. "He's the best I've ever seen, hands down."
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
2017 minors: .312 BA (333 AB), 19 HR, 22 2B, .947 OPS, 35 BB, 72 K
2018 minors: .328 BA (128 AB), 8 HR, 11 2B, .970 OPS, 10 BB, 22 K
Here's the latest entry in the I-don't-know-when-exactly-but-he's-too-good-too-pass-over category. The White Sox have every reason to be patient with the 21-year-old, who is currently paying a second visit to Double-A and naturally making a joke of it (to the extent anyone can, of course, in a world where Vladimir Guerrero exists). The White Sox relented with Yoan Moncada last summer, and the flaws in his game were more evident than those of Jimenez. Once the Super 2 issue is behind us -- so think about mid-June -- the Jimenez-to-the-majors discussion will begin in earnest.
Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers
2017 minors: .256 BA (485 AB), 28 HR, 86 RBI, .836 OPS, 56 BB, 138 K
2018 minors: .291 BA (158 AB), 11 HR, 29 RBI, .952 OPS, 19 BB, 35 K
I made the case for Stewart in Five on the Periphery last week, but now he's officially among the top five prospects to stash. At 24, he's just wasting his time in the minors, and the Tigers' two most glaring deficiencies on offense are in left field and at DH, which just so happen to be the positions Stewart is most capable of filling. After looking like the strikeouts might get the better of him last year, he has become a more controlled hitter this year -- and in a way that hasn't compromised his power. He's not the transcendent talent the top three on this list are, but he could be another Marcell Ozuna-type bat.
Luis Urias, SS, Padres
2017 minors: .296 BA (442 AB), 3 HR, 20 2B, .778 OPS, 68 BB, 65 K
2018 minors: .290 BA (155 AB), 4 HR, 10 2B, .844 OPS, 29 BB, 33 K
Wait, impact? From a guy with seven homers over the past two seasons? Fair, but Urias makes some of the hardest contact of any minor-leaguer, his exit velocity ranking up there with Guerrero's last year. And the way scouts rave about his ability, he could be the sort of prospect who finds another gear once he reaches the majors, a la Francisco Lindor and Gleyber Torres. If nothing else, the 20-year-old has exceptional strike-zone judgment and plenty of extra-base pop, which should at least make him useful in points leagues. And now that he's hot, batting .361 (13 for 36) over his past nine games, he's pushing the Padres to replace either Jose Pirela or Freddy Galvis, who are both miscast as everyday players.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
2017 minors: 12-3, 1.39 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 136 IP, 42 BB, 165 K
2018 minors: 3-1, 2.37 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 30 1/3 IP, 7 BB, 37 K
Duplantier is threatening to join the top list. I'd like his chances better if he was already at Triple-A -- or if the inferior Matt Koch hadn't rebounded from his first disastrous start with another solid outing at the major-league level. Since coming back from an early-season hamstring injury, Duplantier has continued to baffle hitters, most recently allowing two hits over six shutout innings Monday. After delivering the lowest ERA of any qualifying minor-league pitcher since Justin Verlander last year -- and in a hitter-friendly environment, no less -- the 23-year-old is on the fast track.
2017 minors: .297 BA (347 AB), 14 HR, 21 2B, .835 OPS, 24 BB, 53 K
2018 minors: .184 BA (147 AB), 3 HR, 6 2B, .529 OPS, 9 BB, 39 K
Despite ranking among prospect royalty at the start of the year, Mejia has gotten zero attention in this space, mostly because he hasn't deserved it. Something is clearly askew for a player who was thought to be the minors' best pure hitter at this time a year ago -- one who you may have forgotten put together a 50-game hitting streak in 2016. The struggles began with him hitting .226 over his final 47 games last year, dropping his season mark from .371 to .297, and have continued into this year. You can't give up on this sort of talent at a bare-bones position, but there's clearly some work to do.
Austin Hays, OF, Orioles
2017 minors: .329 BA (523 AB), 32 HR, 32 2B, .958 OPS, 25 BB, 85 K
2018 minors: .224 BA (170 AB), 6 HR, 4 2B, .636 OPS, 9 BB, 43 K
Another downer update, this time for a guy who entered spring training as a leading contender for the starting right field job. A sore back sidetracked Hays from the get-go, and he just hasn't looked right since. Showing no improvement now almost three months later, an extended rest may be in order. He's at a level (Double-A) where he spent half of last season and was one of the top offensive performers, so it's not like he's succumbing to some new challenge. Most revealing is that he's already more than halfway to last year's strikeout total.
Nick Gordon, SS, Twins
2017 minors: .270 BA (519 AB), 9 HR, 13 SB, .749 OPS, 53 BB, 134 K
2018 minors: .335 BA (170 AB), 5 HR, 7 SB, .910 OPS, 11 BB, 29 K
Nick Gordon already faked us out last year, seemingly breaking out with a .315 batting average and .880 OPS in his first 64 games before regressing to a .221 batting average and .609 OPS over his final 58 -- and all at the same level, no less. But this go-around, the Twins have been encouraged enough to promote the former fifth overall pick to Triple-A, where he'll begin to apply pressure to the light-hitting Ehire Adrianza. He doesn't have a standout tool but is decent at most everything, which may be enough for him to matter at shortstop.
Jose Suarez, SP, Angles
2017 minors: 6-1, 3.28 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 68 2/3 IP, 22 BB, 90 K
2018 minors: 2-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 38 2/3 IP, 9 BB, 69 K
The minor-league strikeout leader is doing it now at Double-A as a 20-year-old, which suggests he's probably not getting the attention he deserves. It's a strange contrast, though: Suarez has given up bunches of hits throughout his minor-league career, even while averaging the 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings he has now, which explains his high WHIP. Still, he avoids walks, is steadily picking up velocity and is working develop a third pitch. Color me intrigued.
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