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Minor League Report: Who to take first in a rookie draft?

With the MiLB draft in the books, now would be a good time to go through a few of my favorite prospects from round one of the draft.

  1. Austin Beck: OF – Athletics (6th overall)
  2. Jordan Adell: OF – Angels (10th overall)
  3. Royce Lewis: SS – Twins (number one)
  4. Adam Haseley: OF – Phillies (8th overall)
  5. Pavin Smith: 1B – Diamondbacks (7th overall)
  6. Nick Pratto: 1B – Royals (14th overall)
  7. Brendan McKay: 1B/LHP – Rays (4th overall)
  8. Hunter Greene: RHP – Reds (2nd overall)
  9. Kyle Wright: RHP – Braves (5th overall)
  10. Jake Burger: 3B – White Sox (11th overall)

Bonus: Seth Romero: LHP – Nationals (25th overall)

As you can see by this list I like hitters. The draft itself, what teams the players went to, did little to change my mind.

In regards to the question posed in the title, I don’t have a definitive answer. I would probably go with a crazy upside international prospect like Luis Robert. My top six on this list are pretty interchangeable, and if you told me that you liked anyone in the top-10 as “your top guy” in the draft, I wouldn’t fight you too hard on it – although I do have defined tiers within the top-10 myself.

If you want to take a risk I would take it on Seth Romero. If not for a suspension and eventually getting kicked off the team Romero might have been a top-10 pick. While Romero isn’t my typical “take the player that slides with an injury concern guy”, the attitude issues are close enough.

When it comes to Hunter Greene, I hope I don’t get stuck in a position where I have to take him. One hundred miles per hour for someone at his age scares me off. I am not saying he is going to need surgery, but if I can avoid taking him in the first round of a first year player draft I would. The upside is tantalizing enough to put him where I did even with the risk.

You will hear many outlets say if Brendan McKay is a hitter he is here, and if he is a pitcher he is here. Well, we don’t really have the luxury of knowing where he will end up long-term. We can come to conclusions based on what we hear, but when making a pick we can’t say “with the fourth pick I will take McKay the hitter. However, if he ends up a pitcher I want Hunter Greene.” McKay’s relative safety makes him an easy top-10 choice for me, because if he fails as a hitter, the route I think he is going to go first, he has the chance to make it as a pitcher. You basically get two chances for the price of one.

This is one of the years where I would prefer to trade early picks for other prospects, more picks, or MLB talent if I could.

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 June 18.

Redraft Radar

  • Yoan Moncada 2B/3B – White Sox 
  • Amed Rosario SS – Mets
  • Chance Adams P – Yankees
  • Willie Calhoun 2B – Dodgers

Derek Fisher graduated from this list last week, and I think he could be around for a while. Maybe he doesn’t play every day, but the Astros could use him similar to how the Rockies are currently using Raimel Tapia.

Chance Adams and Willie Calhoun get added to the radar this week, although I don’t think a promotion is imminent for either. CC Sabathia being lost for what might be a month wasn’t enough to get Adams a nod, but maybe a DL stint for Tanaka get Adams the call.

Calhoun is here because he keeps hitting and the Dodgers second basemen aren’t lighting the world on fire. Service time won’t be an issue because of the big market, and the team is going to be in a fight for the division.




Who’s hot

Brendan Rodgers SS – Rockies (A+)

  • 2017: .400/.419/.700, 12 HR, BB: 6 (2.7%), K: 31 (14.0%), 2 SB
  • June 4-18: .407/.419/.729, 4 HR, BB: 1 (1.6%), K: 7 (11.3%), 0 SB

Rodgers has appeared here before and will probably be here a few more times before he makes his big league debut.

I love Rodgers, and the closer and closer we get to midseason rankings the more I feel like locking him into my top prospect spot.

To avoid wasting time and repeating what I said about him a few weeks ago, you can read what I wrote here.

If in a shallow league Rodgers is still unowned he is a must add. You will likely be waiting until 2019 for him, but I expect it to be worth it.

Alex Verdugo OF – Dodgers (AAA)

  • 2017: .332/.408/.460, 3 HR, BB: 29 (11.2%), K: 25 (9.6%), 4 SB
  • June 4-18: .426/.492/.704, 2 HR, BB: 6 (9.8%), K: 1 (1.6%), 2 SB

Verdugo was a big riser during last season and found himself in a lot of top-100 lists this offseason.

I think the upside for Verdugo might be a little overblown. At his peak he might hit .300, but more often than not I would expect .280-.290 with 15-20 homers. There will be some steals, but not enough to really bank on.

I think Verdugo’s name and offseason hype should be able to get you a solid return in a trade if you want to go that route, and I believe that is the right call.

Shed Long 2B – Reds (A+)

  • 2017: .316/.378/.543, 12 HR, BB: 23 (8.8%), K: (22.5%), 6 SB
  • June 4-12: .344/.417/.719, 3 HR, BB: 4 (11.1%), K: 10 (27.8%), 1 SB

Like Verdugo last year, Long is a big riser this season after following up his 15 homer season last year with more power this year.

Long’s size (5’8”)might not scream power, but he has 12 homers already this season to go with six steals.

I would bet on Long’s power being legitimate as a potential 20 homer, 10 steal player at the major league level with a .280-.290 average. He has good patience at the plate which should hold up as he keeps climbing (a plus for those in points or OBP leagues), but not surprisingly that does lead to some extra strikeouts as well.

One thing you might notice about these last two players, Verdugo and Long, I have them as relatively similar players. There is a huge difference in how these players are valued right now. I would assume Long is on a lot of waiver wires and Verdugo owned in many leagues.

The risk between the two isn’t all that different. However, Verdugo is a lot closer to the majors.

Ryan McMahon 3B/2B/1B – Rockies (AAA)

  • 2017: .359/.414/.609, 11 HR, BB: 26 (9.3%), K: 49 (17.5%), 9 SB
  • June 4-18: .509/.525/.909, 5 HR, BB: 4 (6.6%), K: 6 (9.8%), 1 SB

McMahon has bounced back in a big way after a down 2016 that saw his strikeout rate rise above 30 percent.

This season he has fixed whatever it was that kept his strikeout rate constantly rising from 2014-2016. The increased contact has unsurprisingly increased his average a lot and is putting him on pace for career highs virtually across the board.

The excitement for McMahon always will be the system that he plays in, except I don’t think he ever plays in Coors. Arenado isn’t going anywhere, and unless the Rockies move Desmond to the outfield full-time he’s blocked at first too. Don’t be surprised if he is in another system come August.

Alec Hansen P – White Sox (A)

  • 2017: 72 2/3 IP, 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, K: 92 (30.3%), BB: 23 (7.6%)
  • Last three starts: 18 IP, 1.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, K: 25 (36.2%), BB: 4 (5.8%)

A second round pick last year, Hansen has been piling up the strikeouts since entering the minors. Hansen was one of the top players in the draft entering the 2016 season, but struggled with control (6.79 BB/9) in his junior season and fell out of the first round completely.

Since being drafted Hansen has found his control and has had a lower walk rate than even his best college season.

The stuff for Hansen shows why he was a top prospect before the draft. He can hit the upper 90s, and at 6’7”, 97 miles per hour can get on a hitter in a hurry. His slider sits in the high 80s and is a nice pairing with his fastball.

If you got Hansen at a bargain in your offseason drafts congratulations. That pick might be a top of the rotation arm.

Forrest Whitley P – Astros (A)

  • 2017: 37 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, K: 54 (34.6%), BB: 16 (10.3%)
  • Last three games: 11 1/3 IP, 2.38 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, K: 18 (36.7%), BB: 7 (14.3%)

Whitley is the classic big Texas righty at 6’7” 240 pounds at just 19 years old.

He already has four pitches that are quality, and I think all four will end up being plus pitches. His fastball sits in the 92-95 range, and he has two power pitches in his curveball and slider. His curve sits in the low 80s and slider mid 80s.

I like Whitley a lot if you want a young arm to sit on for a few years. More than most young arms, I trust him to stay healthy because of his size.

If his last three statlines were edited to the last two, it would have looked a lot more impressive. Throwing 8 1/3 combined between a start and a relief appearance Whitley struck out 15 of the 34 batters he faced with an 18 percent swinging strike rate.

Checking in

Week 10

  • Bo Bichette isn’t showing any signs of slowing down as he is hitting .421/.476/.658 in June, and that is without a single homer this month.
  • Michael Gettys should be sold as soon as possible if you own him. He is already nearing 100 strikeouts on the season, and his average is not sustainable.
  • Fernando Romero struck out six over 5.2 innings in his last start.
  • Vladimir Gutierrez saw his ERA balloon to 5.08 after a four-inning, six run start his last time out.
  • Thomas Hatch has come back to Earth already with his strikeouts with just nine in his last two starts.
  • Chance Adams might replace Tanaka when he gets a phantom injury and misses a couple starts.
  • Jordan Humphreys has given up one run in his last 19 innings.

Week 11

  • Francisco Mejia is still raking and is hitting .468 in his last 10 games with three homers.
  • Rafael Devers has homered in three of his last five games.
  • Mike Soroka has three straight scoreless outings throwing 22 innings in that span.
  • Joey Lucchesi lost the strikeout touch as he struck out just three over five innings of one run ball. He still isn’t walking batters with a 34/2 K/BB rate in his last four starts.
  • Eloy Jimenez has cooled off a bit, but does have hits in his last five games.

 

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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.
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One comment on “Minor League Report: Who to take first in a rookie draft?

  1. This is one of the better minor league/prospect columns around.

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