Jose De Leon ... remember him?
I haven't had much of a chance to address him in this space because, well, he hadn't done anything ... literally. He didn't throw his first pitch of the 2017 season until May 11, when he returned from a five-week absence for a strained forearm with seven strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. He followed up that performance with five no-hit innings Tuesday.
Yeah, I'd say he's healthy.
But he's not in midseason form yet, obviously. Those outings came at high Class A, making them kind of the minor-leaguer's version of a rehab assignment. Ultimately, De Leon will have to prove his mettle at Triple-A ... where he had a 2.61 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 16 starts last year.
So ... prove what exactly? I'm not sure either. I don't know how many starts he'll need to be full-go, but I'm fairly confident the minors won't be able to hold him or his career 12.2-strikeouts-per-nine rate back. And at 24, he's due for an extended look anyway.
Which does not, however, make him one of my ...
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Yoan Moncada, 3B, White Sox
2016 minors: .294 BA (405 AB), 15 HR, 45 SB, .918 OPS, 72 BB, 124 K
2017 minors: .331 BA (139 AB), 6 HR, 10 SB, .905 OPS, 17 BB, 43 K
What more could I possibly have to say about Moncada? Oh look, he's 2 for 14 with six strikeouts in his past three games. "See!" the entire White Sox front office says in unison. "See! See!" I don't know that Moncada has to do anything to earn a call-up other than stay the course. The magic date for retaining a year of team control (May 14) has come and gone, so clearly that wasn't a big part of the White Sox's thinking. They could hold out another month in deference to Super-2 rules, especially with Yolmer Sanchez heating up at the dish.
Amed Rosario, SS, Mets
2016 minors: .324 BA (479 AB), 5 HR, 19 SB, .833 OPS, 40 BB, 87 K
2017 minors: .365 BA (156 AB), 3 HR, 8 SB, .926 OPS, 11 BB, 23 K
Assistant general manager John Ricco is my buzzkill of the week for saying Rosario isn't a candidate for promotion even with Asdrubal Cabrera sidelined for who knows how long by a torn ligament in his thumb. Unlike the White Sox, though, the Mets have plenty of incentive to win now and still enough upside on their pitching staff to salvage their season. I see their resolve weakening well before Super-2 becomes a real consideration, which means it's maybe just a week or two before we see this Francisco Lindor sequel in the majors. He has even managed to raise his batting average with five consecutive two-hit games.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies
2016 minors: .281 BA (498 AB), 38 HR, 116 RBI, .943 OPS, 71 BB, 125 K
2017 minors: .338 BA (130 AB), 10 HR, 30 RBI, 1.094 OPS, 20 BB, 26 K
There's a Paul Goldschmidt-like quality to Hoskins' rise to prospect prominence. The evaluators all just assumed his monster production was a product of his environment until it became clear that it wasn't. Triple-A Lehigh Valley isn't the hitter's haven Double-A Reading is, and yet Hoskins has only gotten better this year. And his numbers somehow improve with each passing week, which is usually a good indication that a prospect is ready for the next stop. Unfortunately for Hoskins, Tommy Joseph no longer looks like a pushover at the major-league level, batting .455 (10 for 22) with three homers in his last seven games.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers
2016 minors: .268 BA (406 AB), 15 HR, 17 SB, .773 OPS, 21 BB, 87 K
2017 minors: .327 BA (110 AB), 4 HR, 5 SB, .927 OPS, 15 BB, 28 K
Yes, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana appear to have solidified their places in the Brewers lineup, and Ryan Braun may not be on the DL much longer. But I'm adding Brinson back to this list more because of what he's doing. The plate discipline has come and gone for the toolsy prospect over his minor-league career, but he already has 12 walks (to 13 strikeouts) in 14 games this month for a .426 on-base percentage. The last time we saw him work the count like this, he hit .332 with a 1.004 OPS between three stops in 2015. If he starts making Triple-A look easy, the Brewers will look for excuses to call him up.
2016 minors: .281 BA (462 AB), 10 HR, 30 SB, .753 OPS, 36 BB, 90 K
2017 spring: .313 BA (147 AB), 5 HR, 3 SB, .847 OPS, 11 BB 44 K
Barreto, meanwhile, is on the verge of slipping off this list. The Athletics seem perfectly content slogging through Marcus Semien's three-month absence with Adam Rosales at shortstop, and Barreto isn't exactly going pedal to the metal right now. His plate discipline is fairly disgusting, which has made for a good-but-not-great OPS (considering it's a hitter's league), and he's just 11 for 53 (.208) OPS in his past 12 games. Truth is there may be only three prospects worth stashing in a standard mixed league right now, and he isn't one of them.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
2016 minors: .282 BA (503 AB), 11 HR, .779 OPS, 40 BB, 94 K
2017 minors: .330 BA (115 AB), 7 HR, .990 OPS, 13 BB, 23 K
The way Pablo Sandoval performed before spraining his right knee in late April doesn't have the Red Sox waiting with bated breath for his return, and when their best prospect happens to be a third baseman, the next step is almost too easy, especially with Devers hitting the way he is now. Considered a transcendent talent from the time he was 17 years old, Devers is only 20 now, but the level he's dominating is Double-A, which is often considered the biggest hurdle in the sprint to the majors. I still wouldn't count on more than a September call-up, but it's a situation that bears watching.
Lucas Sims, SP, Braves
2016 minors: 7-11, 4.40 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 141 IP, 92 BB, 159 K
2017 minors: 4-0, 2.16 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 41 2/3 IP, 9 BB, 42 K
Another week, another Braves pitching prospect -- this one a throwback to the Frank Wren era. The team's first-round pick in the 2012 draft was buried in an avalanche of John Coppolella acquisitions last year, done in by a steadily worsening walk rate. But the 23-year-old has made control a point of emphasis this year in a way that has hardly limited his strikeout potential, regaining his prospect standing and putting him on the short list of players to promote should a need develop.
"It's come a long way, starting to feel really good about it," he told MLB.com of his walk rate, which has shrunk from 5.9 to 1.9 per nine innings. "Just trying to be aggressive and really just go after guys, trying to make the hitters earn their way on."
Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
2016 minors: .244 BA (135 AB), 4 HR, .774 OPS, 12 BB, 43 K
2017 minors: .333 BA (111 AB), 6 HR, .984 OPS, 10 BB, 25 K
Kieboom went kaboom three times in the same game last week and has doubled five times and homered once in eight games since. Though already regarded as a pretty good gap-to-gap hitter, the 19-year-old is showing more power than anyone expected at this stage of his career and is one of the most-added minor-leaguers in CBS Sports leagues as a result. He's years away from contributing in the majors, of course, but an offensive-minded shortstop is something you have to lock up early in dynasty leagues.
Dustin Fowler, OF, Yankees
2016 minors: .281 BA (541 AB), 12 HR, 15 3B, 25 SB, .770 OPS, 22 BB, 86 K
2017 minors: .298 BA (151 AB), 5 HR, 7 3B, 5 SB, .889 OPS, 11 BB, 31 K
How's this for a feat? Two weeks after hitting for the cycle, Fowler nearly did it again Monday, going 4 for 5 with a double and a triple. When you look at the breakdown of his hits both this year and last, it makes sense. He already has seven triples at Triple-A this year after hitting 15 at Double-A last year, and he's no slouch in home runs and doubles either. Seeing as he's in the Yankees system, you'd think Fowler would be a little more hyped as an Adam Eaton type, but he has always taken a back seat, first to Aaron Judge and now to Clint Frazier.
Dylan Cozens, OF, Phillies
2016 minors: .276 BA (521 AB), 40 HR, 21 SB, .941 OPS, 61 BB, 186 K
2017 minors: .213 BA (141 AB), 10 HR, 1 SB, .746 OPS, 14 BB, 58 K
Rhys Hoskins' partner in crime at hitter-friendly Double-A Reading last year, Cozens led all the minors in home runs but had some dramatic home-away splits, which makes his slide at Triple-A Lehigh Valley not terribly surprising. Recruited as a defensive end out of high school, his strength is unquestioned, and it was never more apparent than over the past week when he homered five times in eight games. At 6-feet-6, making contact will always be an issue for him, but he still has time to refine his game at age 22.