Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: The 411 on Luis Robert and the inevitability of Gleyber Torres
Luis Robert is close to signing with the White Sox, and Gleyber Torres is moving up in the world. Scott White gives their short- and long-term prognosis as well as his top five prospects to stash.
Luis Robert isn't actually available in CBS Sports leagues yet, having yet to finalize his deal with the White Sox.
But the day is nigh, and judging from some of the scouting reports, dynasty league owners should already be forming a line.
Only Shohei Otani, Japan's two-way star who won't be available until this offseason at the earliest, has generated more buzz on the international stage, with one AL scouting director going so far as to call Robert "the best player on the planet."
High praise, absurd though it may be.
Robert was, however, the best player at Cuba's highest level, according to Baseball America, where he hit .401 with 12 homers, 11 steals and more walks than strikeouts in 182 at-bats before defecting in 2016. Granted, the talent level in the Cuban National Series has slipped over the past few years because of all the other defections, but for Robert to dominate that league at age 19 speaks volumes.
Predicting where Robert will be two or three years from now is a fool's errand, and Cuba has produced its share of Fantasy fakeouts in recent years. But that particular talent pool's success rate is high enough for us to give Robert the benefit of the doubt, particularly at an age when no one is a known quantity anyway.
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
Not a bit of progress was made over the last week with Moncada sidelined by a sore left thumb, which changes his timetable only by eliminating the most literal interpretation of "any day now." He can't join the big club until he returns from the DL and gets his feet back under him ... and then it'll be any day now. Don't read anything into that trip to Chicago earlier this week. He was just getting the thumb checked out. Yeah, I wish he would strike out less, but that'll always be part of his game. We're mostly just waiting for the White Sox to cry uncle at this point.
Amed Rosario, SS, Mets
2016 minors: .324 BA (479 AB), 5 HR, 19 SB, .833 OPS, 40 BB, 87 K
2017 minors: .361 BA (183 AB), 4 HR, 9 SB, .927 OPS, 11 BB, 27 K
Well, look at that. Rosario is now playing alongside Asdrubal Cabrera at Triple-A Las Vegas, the latter apparently not needing much time to rest his torn thumb ligament. If Cabrera is gearing up to return, the Mets clearly intend to give him a chance to re-establish himself at shortstop before turning the page to the 21-year-old Rosario. But then Cabrera is a 31-year-old middle infielder who's in the final year of his contract, had a .719 OPS and poor defensive rating before going on the DL, and -- oh yeah -- is playing with a torn ligament in his thumb. If the Mets still have any ambitions of making the playoffs, Rosario is up in a matter of weeks.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies
2016 minors: .281 BA (498 AB), 38 HR, 116 RBI, .943 OPS, 71 BB, 125 K
2017 minors: .331 BA (151 AB), 13 HR, 37 RBI, 1.107 OPS, 24 BB, 27 K
Guess what, kiddos? Tommy Joseph is scuffling again, going 2 for 15 over his last five games. And while Hoskins had a quiet week himself, he went 3 for 3 with a homer and a double Wednesday. Joseph would need to continue performing this way for at least couple more weeks before the Phillies would consider making a change in all likelihood, but it's becoming clearer by the week that Hoskins is their future at first base. And seeing as he's already 24, that future figures to begin sooner than later.
Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees
2016 minors: .270 BA (478 AB), 11 HR, 21 SB, .775 OPS, 58 BB, 110 K
2017 minors: .268 BA (127 AB), 5 HR, 6 SB, .852 OPS, 20 BB, 22 K
I should know better, right? Torres is 20 years old and blocked by Didi Gregorius. But he's arguably the top prospect in baseball right now and did just get promoted to Triple-A after showing improved power and advanced plate discipline at Double-A, widely considered to be the slipperiest step up the minor-league ladder. Plus, Chase Headley is just as much of a candidate for replacement. The Yankees have already shown they're not going to hold Torres back because of his age, and if they stick with that approach, well, there's only one more place he can go. I can't say with real confidence he'll be up at all season, but an injury changes everything. And upside is as much a part of this equation as proximity.
Reynaldo Lopez, SP, White Sox
2016 minors: 5-7, 3.21 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 109 1/3 IP, 35 BB, 126 K
2017 spring: 5-1, 2.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 49 IP, 23 BB, 50 K
Lopez struggled with his control at the start of the year, which immediately removed him from call-up consideration after a mostly encouraging spring training. But he has seemingly turned the corner over his past three starts, issuing a combined four walks, and his last start was his best yet. He allowed one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts over six innings. It wasn't one of those slap-you-across-the-face starts, but for a pitcher who has had some success in the majors already, striking out 11 in a start last August, it may be enough to re-open the conversation.
Besides, Franklin Barreto.run of to about
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Cubs
2016 minors: .283 BA (474 AB), 13 HR, 39 2B, .840 OPS, 70 BB, 99 K
2017 minors: .314 BA (121 AB), 7 HR, 14 2B, 1.060 OPS, 17 BB, 32 K
Jeimer Candelario actually beat Ian Happ to the majors this year but was overtaken in part because of his own 3-for-23 performance. All he has done since returning to Triple-A Iowa, though, is homer in three straight games, showing more of the offensive potential that got him promoted in the first place. The most impressive part of his skill set, though, is his batter's eye, which was even more evident last season. He's probably just trade bait for the Cubs with all the infielders they've graduated in recent years, but there's a good chance he'll be starting for someone before season's end.
Michael Kopech, SP, White Sox
2016 minors: 4-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 56 1/3 IP, 33 BB, 86 K
2017 minors: 3-2, 2.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 42 1/3 IP, 23 BB, 59 K
The man once clocked at 105 mph was somehow just the second-most exciting prospect to come over in the Chris Sale trade (Yoan Moncada being the other), but after some predictable control problems early, he's doing some exciting things at Double-A now, allowing just three hits over a season-high seven innings Friday. His hit rate (4.5 per nine innings) is actually lower than his walk rate (4.9), which gives you some idea just how overpowering his stuff is, and the latter is beginning to catch up. The White Sox probably won't rush Kopech, hoping to avoid a Tyler Glasnow situation, but he's gaining value in long-term keeper leagues.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Phillies
2016 minors: .281 BA (531 AB), 5 HR, 30 SB, .723 OPS, 38 BB, 90 K
2017 minors: .282 BA (163 AB), 14 HR, 9 SB, .997 OPS, 17 BB, 33 K
In one of the unlikelier developments in all the minor leagues this year, Kingery is your home run leader. We're talking across all levels. This from a guy who was billed as more of a table-setter -- someone who puts the bat on the ball and takes the extra base -- and did a fine job of it before taking this thumper turn. And while hitter-friendly Double-A Reading may have something to do with it, Kingery's road numbers, like Rhys Hoskins' last year, are impressive as well. He's batting .284 with six home runs and a .983 OPS in 81 at-bats.
Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox
2016 minors: .237 BA (304 AB), 8 HR, 11 2B, .684 OPS, 24 BB, 81 K
2017 minors: .348 BA (132 AB), 10 HR, 13 2B, 1.120 OPS, 16 BB, 30 K
Looks like Chavis, the 26th overall pick in the 2014 draft, isn't a bust after all. He just needed some failure to overcome the mental block that comes with expectations.
"Something I've realized is that the success comes when I just let it come to me by allowing my natural talent to take over," he told MLB.com after a two-homer game Saturday. "I don't try and chase results; I just focus on the process."
It's possible Chavis, at 21, is just too advanced for high Class A at this point, but with Rafael Devers holding down the hot corner at Double-A ... well, he'll need to change organizations (or positions) to have a chance of mattering in Fantasy anyway. He started out as a shortstop, so maybe second base is in his future.
Cody Reed, SP, Diamondbacks
2016 minors: 5-7, 3.82 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 75 1/3 IP, 20 BB, 84 K
2017 minors: 3-2, 1.74 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 46 2/3 IP, 11 BB, 49 K
Not to be confused with the Reds' one-time prospect (and current enigma) with the same name (and handedness), Reed is making a mockery of low Class A for the second straight year, showing rare endurance for a pitcher so far down the pipeline with a complete-game shutout two turns ago and eight shutout innings the start before that. His numbers in seven starts at Kane County last year were nearly identical to this year -- a 1.82 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings -- but a midseason promotion to the hitter-friendly California League ruined them. Once he slays that dragon, he'll be definitively on the prospect radar.
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