You've heard about Reynaldo Lopez, right? Yeah, he's getting called up to start Friday's game for the White Sox, so I'll go ahead and remove him from my Five on the Verge. For all practical purposes, he's in the majors already.
The tipping point was the Phillies' concession that they weren't going to find a taker for first baseman Tommy Joseph any time soon so they'd better figure out somewhere else to play Hoskins. He's no defensive wiz in left field, but something slightly less than passable is good enough.
"We just want to see his bat up here," manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday.
Well, that's what Fantasy owners have been saying all along: If winning isn't a priority anyway, get the bat in the majors and sort the rest out later.
So how good of a bat is it?
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies
2016 minors: .281 BA (498 AB), 38 HR, 116 RBI, .943 OPS, 71 BB, 125 K
2017 minors: .280 BA (396 AB), 28 HR, 86 RBI, .954 OPS, 64 BB, 75 K
From as early as May, Hoskins looked like he was too good for the minors. He gave us an inkling in spring training, when he hit .286 (6 for 21) with three home runs and more walks (six) than strikeouts (four), but made it abundantly clear when his numbers at Triple-A Lehigh Valley began resembling the ones he put up at Double-A Reading a year earlier -- numbers that were widely dismissed as the product of a hitter-friendly environment.
He's clearly one of the better home run hitters in the minors, but what really puts Hoskins over the top for me is the plate discipline. Again, he walked more than he struck out this spring and has come close to a 1-to-1 ratio at Triple-A, his walk rate (13.6) resembling Carlos Santana's and his strikeout rate (16.0) resembling Jean Segura's. The overall package reminds me of Edwin Encarnacion at his best or maybe even a right-handed hitting Anthony Rizzo. Because Hoskins already has such a good grasp of the strike zone, I think he'l hit the ground running in the majors. The threshold for mixed-league relevance is especially high at first base, but I'm still looking to stash him wherever I can.
Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets
2016 minors: .302 BA (484 AB), 14 HR, 29 2B, .824 OPS, 50 BB, 74 K
2017 minors: .329 BA (453 AB), 16 HR, 34 2B, .904 OPS, 39 BB, 86 K
Amed Rosario is up now, and Dominic Smith was supposed to be not far behind. But a week later, it's status quo for the Mets, who may hold out until rosters expand in September at this point. It doesn't help that Smith is batting .133 (4 for 30) over his last eight games. It also doesn't help that the Mets seem concerned with finding at bats for Jose Reyes still, even trying Neil Walker at first base Tuesday. Smith wouldn't be as exciting as Hoskins since it's still not clear if he'll have the power to measure up at a power-dependent position, but the current major-league environment tends to maximize everyone's power.
Luke Weaver, SP, Cardinals
2017 minors: 9-2, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 71 2/3 IP, 16 BB, 71 K
2017 majors: 1-1, 3.77 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 14 1/3 IP, 5 BB, 15 K
Though his first start back in the minors was a head-scratcher, Weaver's latest stint in the majors was an unquestionable success. He allowed two earned runs on five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in a 6 1/3-inning start at the Brewers, and there's no doubt he's first in line should a opening emerge. But with the non-waiver trade deadline past, the Cardinals have fewer options for creating an opening. Adam Wainwright did just return from a stiff back, though, and has already complained about a cut finger. He's also not a particularly good pitcher anymore at age 35, so the Cardinals may ease up on him if an injury doesn't develop for one of the other four first. Weaver is someone every Fantasy owner would be motivated to add if he had a permanent job.
Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves
2016 minors: .312 BA (154 AB), 4 HR, 14 SB, .821 OPS, 19 BB, 29 K
2017 minors: .320 BA (437 AB), 16 HR, 36 SB, .899 OPS, 39 BB, 118 K
Acuna continues to force the issue, raising his batting average to .347 at Triple-A Gwinnett with an 8-for-18 performance since our last check-in a week ago. Not bad for a 19-year-old who began the year in A-ball. The Braves have no reason to rush him, of course, but they're an organization that believes in letting players dictate their own timetables and may look to make a splash like they did with Dansby Swanson last August. I'd put the odds of Acuna's promotion at less than 50/50, but an off-the-charts talent with the potential to contribute in all five categories is still more stashable than, say, Stephen Piscotty, who we more or less expect to get back to underwhelming in the big leagues any day now.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pirates
2017 minors: 7-0, 1.61 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 61 2/3 IP, 25 BB, 92 K
2017 majors: 2-6, 7.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 54 1/3 IP, 29 BB, 50 K
Glasnow's return at this point is mostly a matter of how motivated the Pirates are to bring him back. The 23-year-old has done his part -- completely overpowering hitters in 10 Triple-A starts, most recently with a one-run, seven-strikeout, six-inning effort Saturday -- and it's not like Trevor Williams or Chad Kuhl are legitimate building blocks. The Pirates may still be waiting for Glasnow to bring the walks down, which may or may never happen. He's reportedly making strides with pitch selection, though, and his stuff is so electric that walks alone won't be what ruins him.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals
2016 minors: 5-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 134 IP, 45 BB, 126 K
2017 minors: 11-3, 2.11 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 123 2/3 IP, 29 BB, 127 K
We know Luke Weaver is next in line in St. Louis, which perhaps makes Flaherty is a lost cause for 2017. But it's a shame the Cardinals didn't unload a couple of their veterans at the deadline because Flaherty looks as ready as Weaver to break into the big leagues. After putting together a 1.42 ERA at Double-A, he had kind of a bumpy transition to Triple-A but has made strides over the last couple months, including a two-hit, nine-strikeout effort last time out. Adding a couple miles per hour to his fastball this year has helped elevate his already well-developed secondary arsenal, and he should be in the mix for a rotation spot next spring.
Austin Hays, OF, Orioles
2016 minors: .336 BA (140 AB), 4 HR, 9 2B, .900 OPS, 11 BB, 32 K
2017 minors: .332 BA (419 AB), 26 HR, 28 2B, .971 OPS, 19 BB, 67 K
No minor-leaguer has made hitting look as easy as Hays has this year, demolishing two levels of full-season ball just a year after being drafted in the third round. The second of those levels, Double-A, is normally the one that slows down a fast-moving prospect, but Hays has produced an even better batting average (.338) and OPS (.995) there. If he has one shortcoming, it's that he doesn't walk much, but with as much contact as he makes, it shouldn't be much of a hindrance. Don't be surprised if he's in the mix for a starting job as early as next spring.
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: 8-7, 3.04 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 112 1/3 IP, 58 BB, 145 K
Kopech has become almost a regular in this space, but that's because he keeps doing what he did Saturday, striking out 11 while issuing just one walk over seven one-run innings. Once clocked at 105 mph, the 21-year-old had fallen victim overthrowing, according to Double-A pitching coach Jose Bautista, but after some mechanical tweaks to keep him more in line with the plate, he has issued 1.3 walks per nine innings in his last five starts compared to 6.1 per nine in his first 16. The result has been a 0.79 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, along with what's looking more and more like an ace profile.
Pedro Avila, SP, Padres
2016 minors: 7-7, 3.48 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 93 IP, 38 BB, 92 K
2017 minors: 7-5, 3.96 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 104 2/3 IP, 27 BB, 135 K
By the season-long numbers, Avila doesn't look like much, but the 20 year old has started to come into his own lately, punctuated by a 17-strikeout(!) effort last time out. It was his fourth start with nine strikeouts or more in his last six, and he has just four walks during that stretch. He's in low Class A now, so we're talking a long-term investment, but Avila is beginning to make a name for himself after having virtually no prospect standing at the start of the year.
Mitch Garver, C, Twins
2016 minors: .270 BA (434 AB), 12 HR, 30 2B, .764 OPS, 50 BB, 107 K
2017 minors: .282 BA (294 AB), 16 HR, 24 2B, .909 OPS, 47 BB, 79 K
Kind of a latecomer to the prospect conversation, Garver was overlooked largely because few evaluators believed he could stick at catcher, but he has a strong arm and has improved enough as a receiver that some beat writers are attaching the "catcher of the future" label to him, interpreting the trade that sent John Ryan Murphy to the Diamondbacks as a sign the Twins believe in Garver. At 26, he'll need to break in sooner than later to have a shot of becoming a big-league regular, but he offers patience and pop at a position with a low threshold for mixed-league relevance.