Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Kyle Tucker just begging for a promotion
The Astros have one prospect on the way, but not the one everyone's hoping to see. Scott White counts Kyle Tucker among his top five to stash.
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You're doing it wrong, Astros. That's not the guy we were hoping to see.
Two years ago, yeah, we would have loved to see A.J. Reed get a crack at first base. But that ship has sailed now, right? He's 25 now, so unless a team does like the Pirates and throws him the Colin Moran lifeline, he's stuck in this purgatory of excess, making only cameo appearances whenever somebody goes on paternity leave.
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That's right: This latest promotion isn't even in response to Carlos Correa's DL stint, which itself figures to be a short one. Paternity leave is nothing, three days tops for Yuli Gurriel. Reed will be lucky to get even a start during that time.
And it's a shame because he still has the combination of power and patience that could make him a real asset in Fantasy, batting .266 with 18 homers and a .915 OPS in 73 games for Triple-A Fresno this year. In theory, Alex Bregman could move to shortstop and Gurriel to third base while Correa is out, freeing up first base for Reed, but it doesn't sound like it'll happen.
No, the long-term opening is in the outfield, where the Astros have a more current prospect champing at the bit.
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Vladimir Guerrero, 3B, Blue Jays
2017 minors: .323 BA (437 AB), 13 HR, 28 2B, .910 OPS, 76 BB, 62 K
2018 minors: .407 BA (202 AB), 11 HR, 18 2B, 1.124 OPS, 20 BB, 21 K
We'll get to Kyle Tucker in a minute, but for me, there's still no topping Guerrero among prospects to stash. The guy has missed three weeks now with a strained patellar tendon, but only in the past few days has he fallen out of the Eastern League lead in hits, surpassed first by teammate Bo Bichette and then teammate Jonathan Davis. The initial timetable was only four weeks, so it's possible we'll see him back before the next edition of the Prospects Report. He'll need to get a couple weeks of games under his belt before the promotion talk begins again, but if he keeps going all Ted Williams on Double-A, it's only a matter of time.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
2017 minors: .312 BA (333 AB), 19 HR, 22 2B, .947 OPS, 35 BB, 72 K
2018 minors: .312 BA (234 AB), 12 HR, 15 2B, .912 OPS, 21 BB, 44 K
Eloy Jimenez hasn't yet made Triple-A his playground in a little more than a week there, but he has homered a couple times already and, as usual, is keeping the strikeouts in check. Guerrero is in another stratosphere, but Jimenez's polish for a hitter so young and so powerful is off the charts as well. Keep in mind the rebuilding White Sox didn't hesitate to call up then-top prospect Yoan Moncada when they were convinced he was ready last summer, and Jimenez has fewer holes in his game.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
2017 minors: .274 BA (464 AB), 25 HR, 21 SB, .874 OPS, 46 BB, 109 K
2018 minors: .315 BA (295 AB), 12 HR, 13 SB, .908 OPS, 34 BB, 65 K
Since first appearing in this section a couple weeks ago, Tucker's numbers have skyrocketed. He's batting .471 with four homers, five steals and a 1.257 OPS over his past 16 games, raising his season batting average about 40 points, and yet we've heard nary a word about his possible promotion. Shoot, we heard more about it this spring, when he took the Grapefruit League by storm. It's beginning to make me a little angry, honestly. The Astros obviously have a hole in left field, where Marwin Gonzalez hasn't lived up to last year's production, and Gonzalez is needed at shortstop with Carlos Correa on the DL now anyway. I trust Jeff Luhnow and company are simply keeping this one close to the vest.
Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees
2017 minors: .256 BA (273 AB), 12 HR, 9 SB, .816 OPS, 37 BB, 69 K
2018 minors: .295 BA (173 AB), 8 HR, 6 SB, .916 OPS, 22 BB, 48 K
Frazier's latest stint with the big club was another successful one. He started three games, going 4 for 12 with a double, before being shuttled back to Triple-A, where he clearly doesn't have anything more to prove. By now, it's obvious the 23-year-old deserves an extended look in the big leagues, and between the aging Brett Gardner and the injury-prone Aaron Hicks (not to mention Giancarlo Stanton), it's sure to come eventually. Or he's trade bait and his new team plants him in the lineup right away. Either way, it'll happen fast when it does.
2017 minors: .297 BA (347 AB), 14 HR, 21 2B, .835 OPS, 24 BB, 53 K
2018 minors: .268 BA (250 AB), 6 HR, 16 2B, .729 OPS, 15 BB, 53 K
Whatever had Mejia batting .189 through the first two months — a slump that actually dated back to the end of last season — has clearly been righted here in June, during which he's batting .419 with three homers, 10 doubles and a 1.078 OPS. It was an especially baffling skid for a player regarded as one of the minors' best contact hitters, having put together an honest-to-goodness 50-game hitting streak in 2016.
And now that everything is as it should be, it's worth pointing out he's only a step away from the majors, having already gotten the call once this year but without ever seeing a pitch. He may be blocked at catcher, but he has spent nearly half his time in the outfield, where the Indians can use another bat. Seeing as he'd still be eligible at catcher, it has the makings for Fantasy magic.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Cristian Javier, SP, Astros
2017 minors: 3-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 60 IP, 27 BB, 80 K
2018 minors: 5-2, 1.47 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 67 1/3 IP, 28 BB, 94 K
Hey look, the Astros have spun another no-name hurler into gold. Ranking among the minor-league leaders in both ERA and K/9, Javier is beginning to attract attention in dynasty leagues. He's a curious sort of prospect, lacking in knock-you-over stuff but nonetheless piling up strikeouts by the dozen. The scouting report is sort of reminiscent of Freddy Peralta, actually, but Javier has a fuller secondary arsenal, featuring both a slider and curveball.
Kyle Wright, SP, Braves
2017 minors: 0-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 17 IP, 6 BB, 18 K
2018 minors: 4-7, 4.15 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 82 1/3 IP, 36 BB, 84 K
What Javier lacks in pedigree Wright has by the bushel. His issue has been a lack of production, but the fifth overall pick in last year's draft gave a pretty clear indication of his upside last Tuesday, striking out 13 over 5 2/3 innings.
"I wouldn't say I've had to make any adjustments, but I'm getting used to it," Wright told MLB.com. "I'd say by now, I'm used to being here and the main thing was getting used to being in a five-day rotation."
Control has been an issue for the 22-year-old so far, but seeing as he entered the year with 17 professional innings under his belt, Double-A was an awfully aggressive assignment. I'd encourage patience with this one.
Brandon Lowe, 2B, Rays
2017 minors: .298 BA (410 AB), 11 HR, 39 2B, .867 OPS, 49 BB, 91 K
2018 minors: .293 BA (270 AB), 14 HR, 23 2B, .934 OPS, 43 BB, 76 K
Already established as a doubles machine, Lowe has taken his power to another level over the past week, homering six times in a span of six games. The organization's minor league player of the year last year didn't get much of love from prospect hounds this offseason, as often happens for offensive-minded middle infielders whose greatest asset is plate discipline. But given that he has also played some outfield this year, he could end up with a Ben Zobrist-like profile for Fantasy.
Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Rays
2017 minors: .274 BA (402 AB), 7 HR, 23 2B, .761 OPS, 64 BB, 106 K
2018 minors: .355 BA (256 AB), 15 HR, 18 2B, 1.035 OPS, 34 BB, 44 K
How Lowe can you go? The Rays have gone full Lowe in their farm system. No, this one isn't related to the last one, but he is the older brother of Josh Lowe, who's rated the highest prospect of the three even though he has the worst numbers. This Lowe wasn't even in the Rays' top 30 coming into the year, and his 2017 numbers make it pretty obvious why. He has been an absolute monster this year, though, and has continued it since his move up to Double-A, batting .355 with a 1.035 OPS in 16 games. If he masters that level, he'll take a sudden Rhys Hoskins-like turn toward Fantasy relevance.
Seuly Matias, OF, Royals
2017 minors: .243 BA (222 AB), 7 HR, .720 OPS, 16 BB, 72 K
2018 minors: .240 BA (217 AB), 24 HR, .946 OPS, 19 BB, 90 K
The minor-league leader in home runs is a 19-year-old in low Class A, and ... that's about all he brings to the table as of now. But it's an interesting development for a player who still has plenty of development ahead of him, and Matias is the sort of physical specimen with the capacity to make major strides. If nothing else, his place on the leaderboard should earn him some looks in deeper dynasty leagues.
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