Minor League Report: Don’t worry about Brett Phillips

Now that June is here this is the time where the contenders start becoming more apparent in fantasy leagues.

What does that have to do with minor league players? It means it is time to find those players you want on those competing teams in trades.

Not only is it time to start picking and choosing the players you want to trade for, but it might be time to start churning the prospects in your system. Check the waiver wire for guys that people might not be paying attention to because they weren’t drafted and were not supposed to be top prospects that are off to great starts.

In dynasty formats there is never a time to be asleep at the wheel, no matter your situation.

Top-100 stock up

Jacob Nottingham

  • May 29-June 12: .326/.375/.605, 3 2B, 3 HR, 3 BB, 15 K, 1 SB
  • 2016: .258/.316/.392, 5 2B, 7 HR, 13 BB, 54 K, 4 SB

Nottingham is just waiting for A Jonathan Lucroy trade before he should get his chance to be on the big league roster. After a dreadful start he has picked it up and raised his average over .100 points since the end of April. Nottingham is a catching prospect that will definitely stay at the position who can actually hit. He is one of the very few catchers I would actually want to invest in that is currently in the minors. Nottingham should be up if, when, Lucroy gets traded this season. If he doesn’t make it this year he will almost be a lock to be on the roster next year. One thing to keep in mind with catching prospects is they tend to take a while to acclimate when it comes to their offense. So if he comes up and struggles for a month or two do not panic, and if you do not own him and his owner does panic, make an offer.

Jack Flaherty

  • Last three starts: 20 innings, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 26 K, 4 BB
  • 2016: 58 1/3 innings, 3.86, 1.303 WHIP, 61 K, 18 BB

Flaherty might be one of the hottest pitchers in the minors right now. Unfortunately the 20-year-old is years away from making a major leauge contribution. The Cardinals have a handful of arms ahead of him in the organizational ladder with a rotation that doesn’t have much room as is. Flaherty has been getting a lot of ground balls this season, up to 51 percent from 38 percent last season. The 51 percent ground ball rate has turned into a .350 BABIP for opposing hitters. For such a high ground ball rate that is a pretty high BABIP. If Flaherty gets that BABIP to a more reasonable .300 he could be up for a promotion to AA soon. Don’t forget that this is an organization that is really good at developing their talent. I would be investing in Flaherty if people don’t realize the stretch he is on.

Austin Riley 

  • May 29-June 12: .333/.380/.400, 1 2B, 0 HR, 4 BB, 13 K, 0 SB
  • 2016: .256/.305/.377, 15 2B, 3 HR, 16 BB, 76 K

Riley was looking like he could be one of the big power breakout bats in 2016 after hitting 12 home runs on only 60 games as an 18-year-old last year. The power hasn’t translated this year; he has nine fewer in roughly the same amount of plate appearances. The good news for Riley is that after a slow start he is starting to pick things up, just not the way the people investing in his power had hoped. He is still young at just 19. I think there is still power potential there. The ground balls and strikeouts are up so far this season, but if he can get back to the rates he was at last season he could again be looking like a future 25 home run hitter.



Reynaldo Lopez

  • Last three starts: 14 innings, 2.57 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 26 K, 1 BB
  • 2016: 56 2/3 innings, 3.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 70 K, 21 BB

Lopez was looking like a pretty nice sleeper prospect for 2015 after a great showing in 2014. The move from low-A to high-A didn’t go well; he had a 4.09 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. The good news is he actually improved both his strikeout and walk rate from 2014. Lopez has built on that success with his strikeout rate this season, up five percent, while seeing a two percent increase in his walk rate. There are some rumors that he could help out the Nationals bullpen down the stretch. The worry is that he ends up there long-term; some have projected him as a bullpen arm. I don’t know if Lopez has really elite stuff to be a great starter for fantasy, but I would much rather see him there than in the bullpen. 

Tyler Jay

  • Last three starts: 19 innings, 0.95 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 23 K, 4 BB
  • 2016: 57 2/3 innings, 2.18 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 59 K, 16 BB

Jay is in high-A after being drafted sixth overall in last year’s draft coming as a great reliever from Illinois. Last year he made all 19 of his appearances out of the bullpen. So far this year all 10 appearances have come as a starter and he hasn’t disappointed so far. For a 22-year-old his development and movement to the majors will be slow because he was used primarily as a reliever in recent years. So far this season he has kept similar walk and strikeout rates that he had as a reliever last season, walk rate down three percent and strikeout rate down almost two percent. To this point everything else about Jay is better. The ERA is down almost two runs and WHIP is down from the 1.44 mark he had last season. I don’t think Jay will be a stud like his draft position might suggest. I do think he is firmly in the top-100 at this point because he is looking good in his first chance as a starter.

Outside the top-100

Amed Rosario

  • May 29-June 12: .354/.392/.479, 2 2B, 0 HR, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 SB
  • 2016: .311/.363/.450, 8 2B, 3 HR, 20 BB, 34 K, 12 SB

I like Rosario more in deeper leagues because I think there is a very good chance he makes the majors and has a decent career there. Why I might shy away in shallower leagues is because I don’t know if he has a real carrying tool. He doesn’t have much power and has 20-steal potential in the majors. His contact heavy approach should lead to a decent average, he is striking out at a 13 percent rate this year and has a .343 BABIP. If I had to try to compare him to a fantasy shortstop right now it might be what Elvis Andrus is this season, a .280 plus average with a pace of 20 plus steals and not much in the power department.

Rhys Hoskins

  • May 29-June 12: .351/.393/.789, 4 2B, 7 HR, 0 SB
  • 2016: .278/.338/.538, 13 2B, 16 HR, 19 BB, 67 K, 0 SB

Hoskins is on fire this June with seven home runs in just 52 plate appearances. So far this season he is just one home run shy of his 2015 total of 17. Hoskins appears to be selling out for power; his strikeout rate has jumped to 26 percent; it was 17 percent last season. I don’t think this current hot streak is for real. I do think Hoskins has some nice power, but not the 30 plus home run pace he is on this year. Hoskins is a deep league add for people needing to add a first baseman to their system that is lacking some future first base talent. That could change if he decides he wants to keep selling out for power and become more of an all or nothing Chris Carter type player. If I had to put a stat line to his name it would probably be a .270 average with 20-25 home runs for a ceiling.



Cause for concern?

Brett Phillips

  • May 29-June 12: .189/.295/.453, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 BB, 21 K, 1 SB
  • 2016: .245/.333/.457, 8 2B, 8 HR, 23 BB, 69 K, 3 SB

Phillips has been ice-cold in June. He had a DL stint in the middle of May, and since returning is only hitting .222. The biggest change from last season is an 11 percent increase in the strikeout rate. The other difference is a 10 percent increase in batted balls that turn out to be grounders. The jump in strikeout rate is going to hold him back until he reduces it closer to his career average in the low 20 percent range. I don’t think I would worry too much with Phillips. I think he is just mired in a slump. He hasn’t had a season with a strikeout rate above 20 percent in any of his minor league seasons. I think the 32.5 percent strikeout rate this season is an outlier not a trend.

Checking in

  • Rowdy Tellez has taken a little hit in the past 10 games only hitting .216 in that stretch.
  • Roman Quinn should be moving up to AAA pretty soon. Age mixed with recent production should move him up the ladder soon.
  • Arismendy Alcantara was traded to the Athletics. The trade doesn’t change his value much for me – only in that I would expect him up sooner than he would have been up in Chicago.
  • Tyler O’Neill hit three homers in his past 10 games. Buy quickly before his name pops up on some fantasy prospect lists.
  • Jonathan (JT) Brubaker got promoted to high-A and allowed four runs in five innings.
  • Matt Cooper: it wasn’t double-digit strikeouts but it was another outing with more than a strikeout per inning.
  • Jose Peraza is sure making it hard to want to own him.
  • J.P. Crawford is even more ice-cold than Peraza, only hitting .165 since being promoted to AAA.

 

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Andy Germani
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.
Andy Germani

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