Minor League Report: When can we trust 2017 numbers?

As we move into the second half of May it is worth wondering, what is more real? Was it last season’s out of no where performance? This years hot start?

This isn’t just a prospect issue, it is an MLB issue too. We don’t have the nice new statcast data in the minors that we do in the majors to know if someone is hitting it harder. And please, if this data exists I would love to know where – leave me a comment below or on twitter. We have to trust our eyes, storylines (bleh I hate storylines), and bigger sample sizes.

It is still too early to dump the top prospects that are struggling (like Lucas Giolito) for people off to hot starts (like a Ryan McMahon), but we might not be far off from dropping Giolito in shallow formats.

But to answer the title’s question, I don’t know. I know, that was really helpful. Every situation is different. Maybe a pitcher learns a new pitch or starts using a pitch more. A hitter fixes a minor flaw in his swing and it adds 5-10 more homers. Maybe it is a random hot streak.

The stuff isn’t covered, and possibly over covered, like it is in the majors. So someone throwing a new pitch might go months, relatively, unnoticed in the minors before it starts becoming, again relatively, common knowledge. We can’t check Brooks Baseball in the morning to see if Lucas Giolito’s velocity has been trending downward or if Brent Honeywell is relying heavily on his screwball.

But this is the life of prospects, and I would assume everyone reading this loves every part of it.

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 May 14.

Redraft Radar

  • Yoan Moncada 2B/3B – White Sox (AAA) (#1)
  • Bradley Zimmer OF – Indians (AAA) (#8)
  • Jesse Winker OF – Reds (AAA) (#32)
  • Amed Rosario SS – Mets (AAA) (#58)
  • Derek Fisher OF – Astros (AAA) (#19)

I added a couple new names to the list in Rosario and Fisher. I still am not high on Rosario, but with the news of Asdrubal Cabrera’s torn thumb ligament a DL stint is coming.

Fisher has been on a tear lately. The Astros still don’t have a place to play him, but Carlos Beltran and Nori Aoiki aren’t the biggest road blocks.

Rosario is the only one I would potentially be adding in standard 10 and 12 team redraft leagues, and then might try to quickly flip him.

Who’s hot

Brendan Rodgers SS – Rockies (A+) (#4)

  • April 30-May 14: .463/.483/.796, 3 HR, BB: 3 (5.2%), K: 6 (10.3%), 1 SB
  • 2017: .418/.435/.684, 3 HR, BB: 4 (4.7%), K: 13 (15.3%), 1 SB

Next offseason, barring something unforeseen, Rodgers will be my number one prospect. And if Moncada exceeds eligibility by the time midseason lists are compiled he might be number one.

Rodgers has been compared so many times to Troy Tulowitzki because he is expected to be an offensive power at short playing in Coors so it is an easy comparison to make. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him putting up great offensive numbers.

His upside is a 25 home run player with a .280 average at short stop. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a couple of seasons where he tops even those numbers playing in Coors.

Raimel Tapia OF – Rockies (AAA) (#7)

  • April 30-May 14 (minors): .426/.438/.553, 0 HR, BB: 1 (2.1%), K: 6 (12.5%), 6 SB
  • 2017 (minors): .400/.434/.583, 0 HR, BB: 7 (), K: 17 (), 8 SB

He hasn’t done anything at the major league level, and well… he isn’t in the minors, but I don’t want him to go overlooked.

Tapia is going to be a points league star and a source of batting average, and assuming he stays in Colorado, runs standout for roto and categories leagues.

There is nowhere to play now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Desmond ends up playing a little shortstop and Tapia plays some outfield while rotating with Parra and Reynolds for off days.

I would roster Tapia in just about any format. I had him in the top-10 preseason, and nothing has changed my mind on him.

Triston McKenzie P – Indians (A+) (#39)

  • Last three starts: 16 2/3 IP, 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, K: 26 (39.4%), BB: 8 (12.1%)
  • 2017: 32 1/3 IP, 1.95 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, K: 44 (34.4%), BB: 12 (9.4%)

The last three starts stats are unimpressive, but McKenzie struck out 14 over six innings in his most recent start. In three of his last four starts he had scoreless outings, 18 scoreless innings and 29 strikeouts

McKenzie was a favorite of mine to make the big jump in 2017. Even though he was a 2015 draft pick, he is still really young at just 19 years old, playing in high-A, and won’t turn 20 until the minor league season is almost over.

McKenzie could have three plus pitches and he still has a lot of room to grow at 6’5” and just 165 pounds.

I don’t see number one pitching prospect upside, but at this time next year I think he will be talked about as a top-20 prospect. I think he will be an easy second or third starter for fantasy, assuming health and he can get to a slightly better walk rate, which is impossible for a pitcher.

Ronald Acuna OF – Braves (AA) (#41)

  • April 30-May 14: .404/.444/.667, 3 HR, BB: 5 (7.9%), K: 15 (23.8%), 7 SB
  • 2017: .336/.382/.557, 5 HR, BB: 10 (6.5%), K: 44 (28.8%), 18 SB

Acuna got a pretty surprising promotion to meet fellow 19-year-old prospect Kolby Allard – the surprise was due to the high strikeout rate so far this season. Like Allard, he has impressed in a limited amount of time. So far at AA Acuna is 14/25 with two homers and four steals.

I was a tentative believer in Acuna before the season; I’m trying to not fall too hard for a young player with a limited sample. Early on I am regretting not being higher. The five-category upside seems like a possibility, although I am not a big believer in the stolen base potential.

I would guess the Braves slow play his development because they aren’t that close to competing and they might regret rushing Dansby Swanson; Swanson had less than 600 career minor league plate appearances.

Acuna and Allard have moved quickly so it wouldn’t be a complete shock to find him in the majors at some point in 2018, but I wouldn’t count on him until 2019 and maybe 2020.

This time next year, or maybe even by midseason lists, Acuna will likely be a top-25 prospect.

Dylan Cozens OF – Phillies (AAA)

  • April 30-May 14: .340/.397/.700, 5 HR, BB: 5 (8.6%), K: 11 (19.0%), 1 SB
  • 2017: .220/.294/.758, 9 HR, BB: 13 (9.1%), K: 49 (34.3%), 1 SB

After a horrid start to the season where many said “see, I told you he couldn’t hit outside of Reading”, Cozens has turned it around. Very few people believed in the 40 homer power from a guy that never had more than 16 homers. He did strikeout a lot even with a .276 average.

Cozens has terrible righty lefty splits, and if he ends up having a major league career it will likely be as a platoon player in right field. I would still look to flip Cozens if I could for just about anything of value.

Rhys Hoskins 1B – Phillies (AAA)

  • April 30-May 14: .348/.426/.652, 3 HR, BB: 7 (13.0%), K: 8 (14.8%), 0 SB
  • 2017: .345/.432/.655, 9 HR, BB: 18 (12.9%), K: 23 (16.5%), 0 SB

Should I get my prospect card taken away for not talking about him yet? Hoskins has been off to a scorching hot start to the season, and many have been calling for a promotion with Tommy Joseph starting so slow.

It was hard to judge Hoskins based on his breakout 2016 at a hitter friendly environment. He hit more homers last season in 498 at bats (38) than he did in 743 at bats in the previous two seasons combined (26).

I completely understand that players develop power as they get older, but I wasn’t completely buying Hoskins. The hot start outside of Reading seems like what he showed last year might not have been a fluke.

At 24 he should be set for a call-up soon, and by soon I mean this season. The playing time for this season is a question even when he does get the call. I don’t think Joseph will immediately lose out on all playing time without a complete collapse.

If last year holds true, Hoskins could be a 25 plus homer hitter with upside for more, and for the power he showed last season the strikeout rate wasn’t bad.

Jacob Faria P – Rays (AAA)

  • Last three starts: 14 2/3 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, K: 30 (46.2%), BB 3 (4.6%)
  • 2017: 36 1/3 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, K: 58 (37.9%), BB: 15 (9.8%)

Faria is coming off an absurd 13 strikeout performance, in just four and two-thirds innings. It was his second double-digit strikeout game in his last three starts.

He is striking out a lot more batters than he did in the lower minors. Something changed since he has hit AA; he is striking out well over a batter an inning.

The big talk with the Rays minor league pitching, and rightly so, has been about Jose De Leon and when he would get called up – maybe we should be talking about when Faria will get called up.

For now Erasmo Ramirez is holding down the rotation spot vacated by Blake Snell being demoted. I wouldn’t be surprised if after another great start or two Faria gets the call.

One thing that might hold him back is he can get wild at times and walk too many hitters.

Austin Riley 3B – Braves (A+)

  • April 30-May 14: .354/.439/.583, 3 HR, BB: 7 (12.3%), K: 9 (15.8%)
  • 2017: .380/.342/.455, 7 HR, BB: 11 (7.0%), K: 39 (24.7%), 0 SB

Riley started off 2016 slow, hitting under .250 with only three homers through the end of May. He turned it on from there hitting 16 homers with a .282 average the rest of the way.

When he struggled last year it came with the obvious issue for any power hitter, the strikeout. It was 33 percent through May and dropped to 24 percent when he had his success. To sustain his success he is going to keep it near 25 percent and it is at 25 percent for his success so far this season.

The Braves have a lot of nice prospects in their system, so Riley gets overlooked as the 12th prospect according to MLB.com.

Riley isn’t worth a stash in 12 team or less mixed leagues because the upside isn’t worth the wait. There will likely be players with Riley’s upside on waivers throughout the year. In deeper formats like 15 teams or only leagues Riley should be stashed now.

Checking in

Week 5

  • Franklin Barreto has slowed down lately and is just nine for his last 43.
  • Ahmed Rosario has cooled off a little hitting .267 in his last 10 games, but the Cabrera injury might earn him a promotion.
  • Ryan O’Hearn has just one homer since April 24.
  • Chris DeVito is still on a tear, hitting .436 in his last 10 games with three homers. He was promoted to high-A last week and is off to a six for 14 start.

Week 6

  • Derek Fisher hit two homers last week and his average is up to .333.
  • Kolby Allard combined for 11 innings with just one run last week.
  • Mitch Keller now has three straight scoreless outings covering 18.2 innings.
  • Carter Kieboom, like Fisher, also has his average up to .333.
  • Dustin Fowler cooled off a bit last week, if you want to call a .283 cooling off.


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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.