With a little over a month of minor league games in the books, minor leaguers off to a hot start are starting to get promoted to higher levels to get their next challenge. Many will get off to a rough start in the first few weeks at a new level. Don’t be alarmed.
Kyle Tucker – Astros (A)
- May 1-May 15: .429/.482/.551, 4 2B, 0 HR, 5 BB, 10 K, 10 SB
- 2016: .328/.403/.448, 6 2B, 1 HR, 16 BB, 28 K, 16 SB
Tucker was one of the big fantasy prospects from the 2015 draft class. He doesn’t have huge power upside, but it’s solid. The calling card is the ability to hit for average and steals. I don’t think the 40 plus stolen base pace he’s on is for real. Once he reaches the big leagues, probably not until 2018 or 2019, he should be a .300 hitter with 20 home runs and 15 steals. If the current regime in Houston is still there when he reaches the big leagues maybe he will have more opportunities to run, but not with elite success.
Derek Fisher – Astros (AA)
- May 1-May 15: .294/.362/.627, 2 2B, 5 HR, 6 BB, 16 K, 2 SB
- 2016: .248/.354/.504, 6 2B, 8 HR, 21 BB, 33 K, 4 SB
I wrote about him a little bit in the preseason so it is nice to see him finally get hot. He has power upside that Tucker doesn’t, but don’t expect his average to be nearly as high. Not much has changed from what I said in the preseason. I might get a little more confident in his power upside being 25 plus homers.
Jeff Hoffman – Rockies (AAA)
- Last 3 starts: 19 innings, 2.37 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 17 K, 5 BB
- 2016: 41 2/3 innings, 2.16 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 36 K, 14 BB
I like Hoffman from a prospect standpoint more than Jon Gray who is having a nice stretch in the majors. My concern with Hoffman is the same as Gray, Coors Field. The nice numbers are coming in the PCL so that is a plus, but his off speed pitches might struggle to break in Coors like a long list of players before him.
Ramiel Tapia – Rockies (AA)
- May 1-May 15: .375/.417/.589, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 10 K, 3 SB
- 2016: .279/.331/.436, 6 2B, 4 HR, 12 BB, 20 K, 5 SB
Tapia is a big contact bat. His contact potential with some steals are interesting pretty much anywhere, and Colorado could provide him with some added average and home run potential. Once he reaches the majors Tapia could be constantly flirting with 20/20 season with an average of .290 plus. If he stays in Colorado and bats near the top of the order; that will come with a lot of runs.
Jake Gatewood – Brewers (A)
- May 1-May 15: .333/.345/.667, 3 2B, 5 HR, 1 BB, 13 K, 1 SB
- 2016: .267/.277/.444, 9 2B, 5 HR, 1 BB, 41 K, 1 SB
The average looks good with some nice extra base hit power. Looking more tells a different story. A 41 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio is going to keep him from ever being an elite player. When he was playing shortstop he was a lot more interesting, but he has only played third this season. Gatewood’s power upside will always have people interested, but he won’t ever be anything more than a .250 hitter with potential for 25 homer runs, if his homer upside is still that high.
German Marquez – Rockies (AA)
- Last 3 starts: 18 2/3 innings, 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 18 K, 5 BB
- 2016: 39 2/3 innings, 1.82 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 36 K, 10 BB
He was one of the pieces netted in the Corey Dickerson trade. Marquez has a good fastball that can reach the upper 90’s, but he hasn’t translated that into great strikeout numbers. His walk rate has been improving since 2012 and might be settling around two walks per nine for the future. He hasn’t been giving up too many hits this season, but his track record has him being pretty hittable. The upside isn’t high enough for me to get too excited. In really he is worth a flier in deep leagues, but with less than 300 prospects I can’t see even debating adding him.
Top-100 stock Down
From now on the players in this section are going to be ordered based on my level of concern.
Carson Fulmer – White Sox (AA)
- Last 3 starts: 16 innings, 5.06 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 13 K, 11 BB
- 2016: 34 2/3 innings, 5.45 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 27 K, 21 BB
His walk rate has been the biggest concern. This season it is up to over five walker per nine and in college his best walk season was 3.5 per nine. There was concern with him being a starter or a reliever when he was drafted, and his start this season isn’t helping his cause. A lot of starting pitchers can be converted into elite closers and Fulmer could potentially be on that path, but he is going to have a pretty long leash, I assume, to figure things out as a starter. Fulmer is the only one of these names that I really have concern for.
Lewis Brinson – Rangers (AA)
- May 1-May 15: .188/.250/.396, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 12 K
- 2016: .227/.283/.409, 7 2B, 3 HR, 7 BB, 21 K, 6 SB
Putting him second here might over dramatize my concern, I just trust the next couple more. Brinson has the potential to provide fantasy goodness in just about any category your league could have. He hit 20 home runs last year in 100 games while stealing 18 bases. The start is mostly unlucky. The only concern is a little drop in the walk rate. If someone in your league is worried about the start or the blocked path in the majors, go get Brinson.
Franklin Barreto – Athletics (AA)
- May 1-May 15: .163/.241/.224, 0 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 8 K, 4 SB
- 2016: .235/.288/.331, 4 2B, 3 HR, 7 BB, 33 K, 9 SB
Barreto doesn’t have the upside that Brinson has, but I think the floor is a little higher. The strikeout rate is a bit high for him, at 22 percent. The BABIP is 50 points lower than his career average. Once that rises even close to his career norm he will start to look like the .300 he has the potential to be.
- Last 3 starts: 14 2/3 innings, 4.91 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12 K, 10 BB
- 2016: 30 1/3 innings, 3.86 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 25 K, 20 BB
There isn’t a lot to worry about here for Giolito. He just isn’t going to get a call to the majors the second he could like it was first thought. The WHIP and walks are high while the strikeouts are a bit low. Giolito is going to be an elite pitcher in the majors at some point. It just won’t be in May like many thought in the preseason.
- Tim Anderson is on a tear in his last 10 games hitting .400 with four steals and three home runs.
- Ryan O’Hearn‘s power has slowed a little but he is maintaining a solid average.
- Lucas Sims is off to a rough start at AA.
- Andrew Benintendi was promoted to AA after a scorching hot start at high-A.
- Peter O’Brien is up to 12 home runs through 33 games. There isn’t anywhere for him to play, even with Peralta’s injury.
- Cody Reed, Arizona, has the ERA down to 0.78 with 36 strikeouts in 23 innings. It might be time for a promotion.
- Bradley Zimmer four home runs and seven steals in the past 10 games. He is still striking out too much.
- Joe Musgrove allowed only his second earned run in his last start.
- Steven Moya earned a promotion to the majors last week. No home runs yet, but they will come.
- Harrison Bader – he keeps on hitting.
- Luke Leftwich‘s strikeouts probably have returned to normal in the last start. Still worth keeping an eye on in deep leagues.
- Brandon Waddell doubled his total walks already at AA. That doesn’t mean much though as his season walks have only gone from two to four. Opposing hitters are only batting .206 this year. If he keeps the walks really low he could become a big riser by the end of the year. Just remember there isn’t elite upside here.
- Jorge Mateo has started to figure out how to steal bases. His promotion to AA should come sooner rather than later. He has been playing some second base recently. While that isn’t a big hurt I would much rather see him at short stop.
- Colin Moran is reportedly getting called up. The upside isn’t huge but if he hits he could stay in the Astros lineup even after AJ Reed gets called up.
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