Minor League Report: MiLB vs. MLB

As I watch my teams in different leagues and my major league players getting off to hot and cold starts, I though to myself – “nothing bad can happen with a prospect in April, barring a serious injury of course”.

So one of your mid-level prospects got off to a 2-for-30 start? There is no reason for concern. The thought is he will bounce back. Heck, I know a lot of you probably don’t even check in on your prospects this early in the year, and I can’t blame you. A few weeks should not change your future outlook for someone’s career.

On the other hand, look at your major league players. So many of us will be quick to write-off slow starters and dump them for someone who is on a hot streak because those stats count now.

Maybe you believe you can’t take another week of .200 hitting no power Jose Bautista and you see the hot swinging Ryan Zimmerman on the waiver wire. You are probably thinking of making the move, even though you shouldn’t.

The only thing I can see between these two situations about why we panic for our major leaguers and hold out forever for our minor leaguers is because we think we can’t afford a couple bad weeks of stats.

We should be looking at our prospects similarly to our major leaguers. Don’t panic or get overly excited when someone has a big week.

But it is worth remembering that you can’t wait forever to grab the hot starters. Eventually someone will have what is essentially an empty roster spot they can get rid of to add a hot prospect or MLB regular off to a hot start.

April hot starts bring July stars in deadline deals. That doesn’t have quite the same ring, but I will work on it.

This week I added my preseason ranking for each player that cracked my top-100. These are not updated and will not be until midseason. Also, at the bottom of every article will be a link and updates on the players included in the previous two weeks articles.

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 16.

Redraft Radar

Yoan Moncada 2B/3B – White Sox (AAA) (#1)

  • 2017 (AAA): .317/.404/.488, 2 HR, 2 SB, K: 14 (29.8%), BB: 6 (12.8%)

Bradley Zimmer OF – Indians (AAA) (#8)

  • 2017 (AAA): .286/.333/.524, 1 HR, 4 SB, K: 11 (23.9%), BB: 3 (6.5%)

These two are still the highest of my “in the minors” prospects with 2017 value. They will continue to be here until they get the call. It isn’t a matter of if, but when.

Cody Bellinger 1B/OF – Dodgers (AAA) (#24)

  • 2017: .395/.465/.737, 3 HR, 4 SB, K: 12 (27.9%), BB: 5 (11.6%)

Bellinger has popped up on deeper redraft radars already, but he is worth putting in the “standard” radar area now. He is still blocked in multiple places, but if he keeps hitting – even a small crack on the MLB roster gives him a chance at a promotion.

Bellinger is starting to make my preseason rank of 24 look like I was way too low on him with his hot start and how much scouts are raving about him.

His future potential could be a .280 hitter with 30 homers and some sneaky speed. That profile could make him the cornerstone of a fantasy team for years, and there is potential that he could have eligibility at first or the outfield.

Adrian Gonzalez won’t be pushed into a bench role so it may come at the expense of Andrew Toles, or if Yasiel Puig starts to really struggle, but I think it would take a long stretch of bad performance for Puig to get benched. I would expect the Dodgers to want him to be an every day player too, so I don’t see a 4-5 game a week utility player between first and outfield.

Jesse Winker OF – Reds (AAA) (#32)

  • 2017 (AAA): .323/.421/.387, 0 HR, 0 SB, K: 4 (10.5%), BB: 6 (15.7%)

It is still way too early to make a really educated call on Winker for what type of minor league season he will be for, but the early season numbers hint it might be one with a better average and less power. But again this is an insanely small sample to base anything off of.

He got a brief cup of coffee before being sent down, but it won’t be long before he is back. I would expect to see Winker in the majors in May.



Who’s hot

Juan Soto OF – Nationals (A) #89

  • 2017: .400/.449/.578, 2 HR, 1 SB, K: 3 (6.1%), BB: 4 (8.2%)

Some are touting Soto to be this year’s Ronald Acuna or 2015’s Victor Robles.

I don’t see Robles’s upside in Soto or the safety of Acuna, yet. His potential could be a 20 homer 15-20 steal player with a nice .280 average. All solid but slightly below the likes of Robles and slightly riskier and further away than Acuna.

Soto made a handful of top-100 lists this offseason and I expect him to be a big riser by the time midseason lists comes out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in the top-50 in some places.

Mike Soroka P – Braves (AA) #98

  • 2017: 11 2/3 IP, 0.77 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, K: 14 (34.1%), BB: 0 (0%)

Another arm in the already loaded Braves minor league rotations.

Soroka will pitch almost all of this season as a 19-year-old in AA. There is little hope that he will get to AAA until the middle of next year. As far as teenage pitching prospects go, Soroka is as close as any to making a big league debut.

He has the look of a pitcher at 6’5” 225 pounds. There shouldn’t be much in terms of durability questions.

Soroka has nice future potential with a fourth fantasy starter upside. He probably wont strike out a batter per inning, but I think he can hold good enough ratios that 6-7 K/9 will be fine.

Carlos Rincón OF – Dodgers (A)

  • 2017: .367/.457/.900, 5 HR, 1 SB, K: 14 (40%), BB: 5 (14.3%)

One of my preseason deep sleepers so it is nice to see him get off to a hot start, aside from the strikeout rate.

Last year he struck out just over 26 percent so I am hoping that is closer to the norm. He is just in A-ball so there is a lot of projection and risk here, but in a lot of places he should be freely available on the waiver wire.

Last season he paced out for what could have been a 30 homer 20 steal season, all while hitting above .300. I don’t expect that from him in the future though.

If things work maybe he can hit 25 homers with a .280 average. I think the strikeout rate will prevent him from hitting .300 as he climbs the ladder.

Grab him now and hope he stays hot for a couple of months and prospect buzz on him can help turn him into a trade chip.

Ti’Quan Forbes 3B – Rangers (A)

  • 2017: .436/.500/.769, 4 HR, 1 SB, K: 12 (27.3%), BB: 3 (6.8%)

Forbes was a second round pick in 2014 and fell off the radar after a couple sub par seasons.

He was drafted as a high upside raw player, but the baseball skills haven’t quite pan out, with just four homers and a sub .260 average entering this season in over 800 at bats.

Now, in just 39 at bats he has matched his home run output. Forbes is far from a must add, but he needs to be monitored just in case he figured out how to translate the raw ability into baseball skills.

Cedric Mullins OF – Orioles (AA)

2017: .455/.489/.818, 3 HR, 3 SB, K: 5 (10.6%), BB: 3 (6.4%)

It is early, but all 5 feet 8 inches of the switch hitting Mullins is leading all levels of the minors in hits with 20.

For his size Mullins has decent pop; he hit 14 homers in 559 plate appearances last season to go with 30 steals. The speed is his calling card, but if the double-digit home run power is for real then Mullins could become a really interesting prospect.

Jose Altuve made it so small prospects won’t ever get overlooked again, as long as they are producing.

I would give Mullins a speculative add in anything deeper than 300 prospects and see where he is at the end of May, you might just have a big riser that gets you a decent return in July.

Checking in

Week 1

Trey Mancini has been on fire with four homers in 24 plate appearances and a .364/.417/.955 slash line.
Willie Calhoun hasn’t gone deep yet, but I wouldn’t worry.
Ian Happ has been one of the better hitters in the minors in 2017; he just has no avenue to playing time. He is hitting .311/.367/.733 with six homers.
Derek Fisher has struggled out of the gate after an awesome spring. Most notably just 1-for-3 on stolen base attempts.
J.D. Davis is maintaining an average above .300 and a strikeout rate under 20 percent so far.

Week 2

Jose Berrios followed up his first start by going eight innings and allowing one unearned run while striking out six with no walks.
Michael Kopech struggled with the walks in his second start with five in just 3 and two-thirds.
Brent Honeywell had another nice start, giving up one earned in seven innings while striking out eight. That earned him a promotion to AAA.
Chance Adams went 5.2 innings for the second straight start – this time only walking two, but striking out eight.
Kyle Funkhouser had an ugly second start. He gave up seven earned in two innings.

 

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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.