Minor league report: Ceiling vs. floor

Ceiling vs. floor. What do you value more? There really is no right or wrong answer to the question.

This week features some “boring” prospects that don’t have a ton of upside but have a good chance of reaching the big leagues, and some big upside players who could be all-stars or could fizzle out without ever providing any real value to a fantasy team.

League size will usually play a big factor in what you value and why. Shallower leagues with shallow minor league systems don’t have much room for prospects with a low ceiling, however, players who could hit 40 home runs at some point if everything works out could provide huge value even if it has only a five percent chance of happening.

This week’s report is a little different than the past few. Now that the season is starting to get a little bigger sample size you will see a two-week stretch for hitters (Sunday-the most recent Sunday before this post) and for pitchers the last three appearances he has made.

All stats taken through May 8.

Top-100 stock up

Joe Musgrove

  • Last 3 starts: 14 innings, 0.00 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 16 K, 1 BB
  • Season: 26 1/3 innings, 0.34 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 30 K, 3 BB

You won’t be investing in a big time strikeout pitcher if you go for Musgrove. Once he left rookie ball behind him all he has gone on to do in the past three seasons is compile a 2.02 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 204 innings. I really wish I had more shares of Musgrove because I think he will be a really quality MLB pitcher that people won’t be super excited to own, in the mold of a Jose Quintana prior to this season.

Amir Garrett

  • Last 3 starts: 17 2/3 innings, 0.51 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 22 K, 8 BB
  • Season: 35 2/3 innings, 1.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 38 K, 11 BB

One of the big risers so far this season. Garrett followed up a nice 2014 season with an even better 2015 to really get the hype train going for this season. He seems younger than 24 because the hype around him hasn’t been around for a while, he was a 22nd round draft choice. Garrett made nice adjustments to improve his control to get some success and is down to 2.8 walks per nine this season. He is in the Reds long-term plans so I don’t know if he gets the call this season, but in any other organization competing this year he would almost certainly get the call.

Outside top-100

Steven Moya

  • April 24-May 8: .345/.387/.845, 6 2B, 7 HR, 4 BB, 17 K, 0 SB
  • Season: .304/.339/.652, 10 2B, 9 HR, 5 BB, 27 K, 0 SB

Moya is a classic big time power with big time strikeout prospect. He is coming off back to back seasons with 161 or more strikeouts, but it came with some impressive power numbers, 23 and 35 home runs. At age 24 he is becoming a prospect that has been around for what seems like forever. Like many other prospects if he can keep the strikeouts at a reasonable level this could be a Chris Carter like player in the majors.

Junior Fernandez

  • Last 3 starts: 19 innings, 1.89 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 19 K, 5 BB
  • Season: 32 innings, 2.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 26 K, 10 BB

The hard throwing 19-year-old can hit 100 on the gun and has already had a 10 strikeout game this season. Fernandez is a long way from being major league ready but he already has a plus fastball. If he can add some quality secondary pitches he can become a high-end starter, if not he could always be a great bullpen arm.

Harrison Bader

  • April 24-May 8: .429/.492/.714, 4 2B, 4 HR, 5 BB, 7 K, 3 SB
  • Season: .365/.416/.539, 5 2B, 5 HR, 7 BB, 28 K, 4 SB

Bader is off to a really hot start to the season and has been even better in recent weeks. We had a question about him on last week’s article so I figured I could do a little more research. His career minor league strikeout and walk rates are promising for what he has provided at the plate so far. Bader doesn’t possess elite power upside but 20 or so home runs is definitely attainable. His best asset is his average. He has hit well at every level to this point. If Bader continues to rake he could creep up on some top-100 lists by summer. My concern is I don’t know how high his upside is. At this point I have him as a wait and see, but if he is knocking on the door of the big league roster and still hitting .300 with 18 plus home run potential he is definitely a top-100 prospect.

Stephen Gonsalves

  • Last 3 starts: 19 innings, 0.95 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 17 K, 6 BB
  • Season: 31 innings, 1.45 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 27 K, 9 BB

Gonsalves has been putting up great numbers ever since being drafted in 2013.  He goes a little under the radar because he doesn’t have huge strikeout potential, projectability is much more valuable for MLB teams than fantasy owners. The walk rate is promising for his age but the Twins are moving him slowly through the minors. The career minor league ERA is 2.08 and his WHIP 1.07.

Luke Leftwich

  • Last 3 starts: 16 innings, 1.13 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 27 K, 7 BB
  • Season: 24 innings, 2.25 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 39 K, 12 BB

He isnt a big time prospect yet. Drafted in the seventh round last year he had a nice start to his minor league career maintaining a 2.76 ERA in 45 2/3 innings. His numbers are a little deceiving if you look at his WHIP then his ERA. In his small sample size in 2015 and 2016 there are big differences in the numbers. Last season the walk rate was nice but the strikeout and hits were a problem. This season is a different story. He is striking out 14.9 batters per nine while walking 4.5. He is far from a must add but anyone putting up eye-popping strikeout numbers like he has needs to be monitored, he is coming off back to back double-digit strikeout games

Brandon Waddell

  • Last 3 starts: 19 1/3 innings, 1.40 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 16 K, 0 BB
  • Season: 35 1/3 innings, 1.27 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, 29 K, 2 BB

He has already gotten the call to AA after posting a 0.93 ERA in five starts at high-A. For his first full season in the minors the first thing that jumps out about his numbers is the walk rate. Only two walks this season, good for 0.5 walks per nine. I wouldn’t expect him to have a rate like 0.5 walks per nine at any level but looking back at his college numbers he maintained a 2.6 BB/9 in 313 innings in college. The Pirates have a lot of arms in the minors right now so no matter what he does he won’t be making any type of jump to the majors this season. Like Leftwich, I don’t think anyone needs to run and add him immediately, even in those really deep 20 plus team leagues, but definitely keep an eye on him.

Stock Down

Jorge Mateo

  • April 24-May 8: .468/.500/.809, 1 2B, 3 HR, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 SB, 4 CS
  • Season: .374, .429/.607, 3 2B, 4 HR, 10 BB, 25 K, 8 SB, 8 CS

I might be a little hard on Mateo saying stock down when he is hitting .468 in a two-week stretch. I don’t think anyone is expecting that to continue, or for the power surge of three homers. My big concern, and the reason for the stock down is the lack of success on the base paths. Eight steals on 16 attempts. For a future speedster that is worrisome. Hopefully it is just a small sample size, but catchers in high-A don’t compare to the ones at the major league level.

Francis Martes

  • Last 3 appearances (2 starts): 6 2/3 innings, 14.85 ERA, 3.30 WHIP, 5 K, 8 BB
  • Season: 16 2/3 innings, 7.56 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, 14 K, 14 BB

At the beginning of the year he had a chance to crack the big league roster if he found some early season minor league success. Not so much now. He is really struggling with his control, nearly walking one per inning, and the strikeout numbers are far from gaudy to this point to get people even a little excited. Martes is going to need to figure out his control in a hurry in order to keep his stock from falling dramatically.

Checking in

  • Andrew Benintendi continues to hit, increasing the questions of when will he get the call.
  • David Dahl has now reached the 10/10 mark in homers and steals and has his sights on a potential 30/30 year.
  • Peter O’Brien has 3 home runs and is hitting .317 in his last 10 games, with four multi hit games in that stretch.
  • Cody Reed of the Diamondbacks tossed 6 and 2/3 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts in his most recent start, bringing his total to 17 and 2/3 innings and 31 strikeouts.
  • Bradley Zimmer has four home runs in his last seven games, but 11 strikeouts and a .207 average to go with it.
  • Ryan McMahon things aren’t getting any better for McMahon who is still homerless through 93 at bats.
  • Rafael Devers is still struggling, but it is too early to panic, buy low if someone else is.
  • Brent Honeywell has yet to allow more than one earned run in an outing this season.
  • Tim Anderson’s chances for an early season call up get smaller and smaller as his struggles continue and the White Sox continue to win without him.
  • Ryan O’Hearn is hitting .318 in five games since being promoted to AA.
  • Lucas Sims had a rough outing in his last start allowing six earned runs in only four innings.


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Andy Germani

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I am a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan and a graduate from Penn State. Baseball was my first love and I still play to this day in an adult baseball league. I always love helping people with their questions on Twitter so feel free to follow me and ask questions.

2 thoughts on “Minor league report: Ceiling vs. floor”

  1. Interesting take on Mateo…I’d argue his stock is up big. He’s hitting well, hitting for power. He’s still a top of the scale runner, he hasn’t lost his speed. Sure, he needs to work on his jumps, not getting picked off, etc. But that’s what I’m least worried about, and he’s shown improvement in every other offensive category.

    A commenter at minorleagueball summed it up nicely, IMO: “It’ll come around. It’s not like you forget how to steal bases, and an 80 runner at 20 is always going to be fast.

    I like that his anemic performance on the bases allows for focus on the real driver here, which is his bat. Power has jumped, and after a low-contact start his Ks have dried up too.”

    1. It is definitely being hard on him. I probably should have created a new category, like keep an eye on, or something of that nature. All the numbers with the bat are great. I don’t really buy the power. He is a 10 homer guy and not much more to me.

      I think his calling card is the average and the speed. Investing in him, at least from my point of view, I want at a minimum a .280 average with 25 steals, with upside of .300 and 30.

      If his success on the bases continues the way it is in the low level minors I really worry about those steal numbers as he climbs the minor league level.

      It won’t take much at all to get his stock to go back up, I just think the lack of success needs to be monitored. Fifty percent in high-A, or at any level, is really bad.

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