Minor League Report: Hot Starts

One week in the books and it already feels to me that I didn’t have to wait since October for the last game.

The minor league season doesn’t get off to as quick of a start as the MLB season so putting together a minor league report for hitters in a 4-5 game sample is difficult if not worthless.

So this week, other than the redraft radar, will be focused on pitchers that had a good first start. It will probably be another week or two before we get into the true swing of things with the minor league report.

As usual if you have any questions on anything fantasy baseball, feel free to ask about them in the comment section below or on Twitter

All stats are through Sunday April 9.

Redraft Radar

Yoan Moncada 2B/3B – White Sox (AAA)

  • 2016 (A+ – AA): .294/.407/.511, 15 HR, 45 SB, BB: 72 (14.7%), K: 124 (25.3%)
  • 2016 (majors): .211/.250/.263, 0 HR, 0 SB, BB: 1 (5%), K: 12 (60%)
  • Spring stats: .317/.391/.683, 3 HR, 0 SB, BB: 5 (10.8%), K: 14 (30.4%)
  • 2017 (AAA): 8-20, .400/.429/.550,1 HR, 1 SB, BB: 1 (4.7%), K: 6 (28.6%)

Bradley Zimmer OF – Indians (AAA)

  • 2016 (AA – AAA): .250/.365/.425, 15 HR, 38 SB, BB: 77 (13.8%), K: 171 (30.7%)
  • Spring stats: .358/.424/.660, 3 HR, 4 SB, BB: 5 (8.5%), K: 13 (22.0%)
  • 2017 (AAA): 6-17, .353/.389/.706, 0 HR, 1 SB, BB: 1 (5.3%), K: 3 (15.8%)

I quickly realized how difficult it was going to be to list new and interesting potential impact bats here on a weekly basis, or at least this early in the year. I debated on including the rate stats at all for the short samples because with such small sample sizes, any strikeout or walk can change things dramatically.

Moncada continued on from his hot spring while Tyler Saladino keeps the seat warm until the White Sox can safely get another year of control.

Zimmer has managed, through four games, to cut down on the strikeouts a bit with just three in 17 at bats. After Moncada, Zimmer is my second-best in the minors prospect for 2017.


Hot Starts

Jose Berrios SP – Twins (AAA)

  • 2016 (AAA): 111 1/3 IP, 2.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, K: 125 (29%), BB: 36 (8.3%)
  • 2016 (MLB): 58 1/3 IP, 8.02 ERA, 1.87 WHIP, K: 49 (17%), BB: 35 (12.5%)
  • WBC and spring stats: 10 2/3 IP, 5.91 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, K: 13 (29.5%)
  • 2017: 6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, K: 7 (31.8%), BB: 1 (4.5%)

Ok, so Berrios isn’t a prospect anymore. He’s young, in the minors, and this is the minor league report so why not.

After having an eye-popping appearance in the WBC, one brief outing destroyed his ERA, it did seem like a bit of a surprise to see him get sent down, but Berrios needed to get stretched out.

If you remember, last season Berrios had a really tough time in the majors. The main problem was his ability to throw strikes. Berrios walked 35 in 58 1/3 innings in the majors last season in the majors, compared to 36 in 111 1/3 innings in the minors.

The walks in the majors, and this first start, don’t fall in line with any other time in his career. His BB% by season went 3.5, 8.8, 6.7, 5.7, 12.5 (2016 MLB), 8.3 (2016 minors). The one that really sticks out is obviously the 12.5. Most seasons he was slightly below average or better. Something happened at the major league level last season and he struggled to throw strikes.

Berrios could easily fall into the Mike Trout type of prospects. Not in the level of Trout, obviously, but in the way Trout came up, failed, and then lost the prospect hype before returning and succeeding.

The concern is still there based on his first start amassing a walk per inning. If he can fix the walk issues he could be a breakout this season.

Michael Kopech – SP White Sox (AA)

  • 2016 (A- – A+): 56 1/3 IP, 2.40 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, K: 86 (38.2%), BB: 33 (14.7%)
  • Spring stats: 6 IP, 7.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, K: 11: (40.7%), BB: 2 (7.4%)
  • 2017 (AA): 4 1/3 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, K: 10 (55.6%), BB: 2 (11%), 1 HBP

Known for his 80-grade fastball that hits 100 while mostly sitting in the upper 90s, Kopech was a big riser in the past year cracking the top-50 on just about every list out there.

Kopech’s fastball is going to make it relatively easy for him to put up nice numbers in the minors pitching to a lot of guys that will never really make it.

One thing that isn’t hurting him now, but will once he faces better hitters, are his walks. He walked batters at nearly a 15% rate last year, up from his already subpar 10% in 2015. Better hitters that aren’t going to strike out a third of the time will make those free passes pay.

The biggest thing with Kopech is you can’t teach what he can do with his fastball, and that doesn’t even factor in when he throws in a slider that is also in the 90s. The upside here is a Noah Syndergaard clone if he can limit his walks. The rock bottom is probably still an elite bullpen arm.

Brent Honeywell

  • 2016 (A+ – AA): 115 1/3 IP, 2.50 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, K: 117 (25.8%), BB: 25 (5.5%)
  • 2017 (AA): 6 IP, 3.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, K: 12 (52.2%), BB: 1 (4.3%)

This feels like déjà vu.

Honeywell is mostly known for his screwball which many scouts have graded as his best pitch. The screwball helps him get lefties out more than most right-handed pitchers in the minors. He has held lefties to about a .200 average during his minor league career. 

The best part about Honeywell might not even be his curveball. Honeywell has plus control already in the minors and has kept runners off the bases at every level; his WHIP has never been above 1.06 and his BB% never above six.

With many top-level pitching prospects, the stuff is there and the question comes down to figuring out how to throw strikes consistently. With Honeywell, he is already throwing strikes, and once he gets to the big leagues he can focus on improving his already above average stuff.

Right now I would expect Honeywell to be up at some point this season. The guess would be that Honeywell doesn’t provide much 2017 value – maybe 10-20 MLB innings.

If he can make the rotation at the start of next season, and he probably should but might not because of service time, Honeywell could be a breakout in 2018.

Chance Adams

  • 2016 (A+ – AA): 127 1/3 IP, 2.33 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, K: 144
  • Spring stats: 4 IP, 2.25 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, K: 5 (23.8%), BB: 6 (28.6%)
  • 2017 (AA): 5 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, K: 5 (23.8%), BB: 4 (19.0%)


Adams broke out last season after coming out of the bullpen in 2015. It doesn’t hurt to have his first start of 2017 be 5 2/3 no-hit innings.

Adams gets overlooked somehow in a big market farm system where it feels like every prospect with a pulse is the next big thing.

While he does have nice strikeout numbers, I don’t think there isn’t a ton to get super excited about right now for Adams in leagues with less than 200 prospects owned, until he gets close to a promotion. 

He does not possess any pitches that will make you go wow, but he does have four solid ones that will help him keep hitters off-balance.

There is an outside chance we see Adams in New York this year if he can continue where he left off last season.

If he does look like he is doubling down on his breakout 2016 he might crack the top-100 by midseason, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect it.

Kyle Funkhouser

  • 2016 (A-): 37 1/3 IP, 2.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, K: 34 (23.0%), BB: 8 (5.4%)
  • 2017 (A): 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP, K: 9 (52.9%), BB: 1 (5.9%)

Funkhouser took a risk that ultimately didn’t pay off after being drafted 35th overall by the Dodgers in 2015.

Funkhouser went back to school and his ERA and walk rate went up a little bit, but not something that should have dropped him as far as it did. That dropped Funkhouser to a fourth round pick in 2016 where he could end up being a steal for the Tigers.

His best pitch is probably his fastball that can hit mid 90s to go with a few other average pitches. He didn’t pitch after being drafted. He did get 13 starts and did well in that small sample by limiting walks, but he never threw more than four innings in any of those starts.

Funkhouser started 2017 off on a high note, striking out nine and walking just one. If he continues to limit his walks and strike out about a batter an inning he could be a fast riser.

 

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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.