Minor League Report: Early Success

This week’s minor league report will be a little shorter than normal. Every once in a while life throws a wrench into the program, and as much as I would love to tell my job I have fantasy baseball things to do, they do sign my check so…..  However, being the devoted baseball fanatic that I am, I sacrificed my lunch break (you all owe me a sandwich) as to not let down my loyal readers.

Juan Soto
.361/.500/.861, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB, K%: 15.2, BB%: 21.74

Almost every time I would be leading with the guy coming up next on this list, but I feel like everyone has been hyping him up since the spring. As weird as it is, Soto’s amazing start to the season has been overshadowed by the likes of Guerrero, Acuna, Ohtani, etc. It could be because he has no shot at 2018 playing time, or maybe even 2019, but Soto has immense upside.

He is being projected to be a bat first corner outfield type. As of now he does provide some speed, but not enough to count on, or to assume it continues at the major league level. If you can get Soto then get him now. It is too late to buy him for cheap, but looking back a year from now, what you can get him for today could seem like a bargain. Just ask the people who traded for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. this time last year.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
.361/.439/.639, 2 HR, 12 RBI, K%: 9.76, BB%: 12.20

He has been great and would be the top name here, and as mentioned above should have been the top name listed. If somehow his current owner is sleeping or living under a rock I would be trying to get him, but likely with good reason, the asking price is going to be way too high. Still, it might be worth the price.

Seuly Matias
.286/.342/.686, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB, K%: 44.7, BB%: 5.3

Matias has one of the better outfield arms in the Kansas City system combined with his above average power. Overall the hot start might just be a flash in the pan, a pump and dump type thing for fantasy owners, as I don’t know if his hit tool is good enough to last as he climbs the latter. And unlike others with power and a bad hit tool, his power is not nearly good enough for the risk.

Colton Welker
.455/.591/.848, 3 HR, 10 RBI, K%: 15.91, BB%: 25.00

Welker is the guy you want to own if you are in a league with stat hunters. He is going to put up some pretty great numbers, as with any Colorado prospect, in the minors. That isn’t to say Welker isn’t a good player, I just think the numbers are almost always going to be misleading.

The good news is if he does make it through the system and into the majors he has a great home park to play in too. He has above average power and an above average hit tool. For me he is more of a trade chip than a minor league asset, unless I am in a deep league.

Tyler O’Neill
.410/.405/.821, 4 HR, 14 RBI, K%: 23.8, BB%: 2.4

O’Neill got bumped off a lot of lists this offseason after a “meh” 2017, but his 2018 has started off hot as he has shown off his plus power. I got really excited about O’Neill prior to last season, and it won’t take much for me to get excited about that hitting potential again.

Josh Naylor
.472/.545/1.000, 6 HR, 14 RBI, K%: 11.4, BB%: 15.9

Speaking of guys who fell off a little. After being the number 12 pick in the 2015 draft – one of the top power bats in the draft, Naylor went on to hit 22 homers in just over 1,000 plate appearances. Last year in the AFL he showed signs of improvement in the power department, in an extremely small sample. Now in his past 29 games Naylor has hit nine homers, six so far this season to go with his crazy 1.000 slugging percentage.

Naylor, as with many high school prospects, feels like he has been around forever. It is worth noting he is still only 20 and will turn 21 in June. Prospect fatigue happens to the best of us, but Naylor might be showing fantasy owners why we shouldn’t give up on former top picks.

Zac Lowther
6 IP, K: 13 (68.4%), BB: 1 (5.3%), 0.00 ERA, 0.17 WHIP

All Lowther has done is dominate. Since being drafted last season he has thrown 60 1/3 innings with 88 strikeouts, a 1.49 ERA, and a 0.78 WHIP. In his only start this season he struck out 13 in six no hit, one walk, innings.

The stuff doesn’t really support the numbers. Maybe he keeps it going, but it is going to be hard to dominate like this with a fastball that sits in the 87-90 range with a slightly above average curveball and an average changeup. He is a lefty and he did dominate in college as well, so maybe this does continue. I know, a big help, right – maybe it continues maybe it doesn’t.

For me I would much rather take a stab at a guy with an upper 90s fastball and worse numbers than the guy that is dominating while topping out in the low 90s.

Eric Lauer
18 IP (3 GS), K: 19 (26.4%), BB: 6 (8.3%), 3.00 ERA, 0.94 WHIP

Lauer struck out 10 in his first start of the season in AAA. It is worth noting that this was a AAA outing – Lauer was just drafted in 2016, but he did have three very good years at Kent State prior to that, posting a 1.86 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over 270 innings (42 starts) with 292 punchouts.

Lauer is kind of like Lowther in the sense that there is nothing elite with the stuff, just a lot of good. But again, he has put up some great numbers. I have more hope with him than I do with Lowther, partly because of the pedigree and part of that is he is already close to the majors and not just dominating the lower levels.

I would use his pedigree and numbers in a trade. I don’t love investing in pitchers, and if I have one that I think might have even slightly more value than I think he has I want to move him. There is just too much risk at the position.

Micker Adolfo
.395/.435/.651, 2 HR, 10 RBI, K%: 17.4, BB%: 4.3

Adolfo is the classic power and strikeout guy that we all hope can hit just enough to become useful. Well, in this short sample he is hitting enough. It is hard to use this as a sign of anything as Adolfo has never hit higher than the .264 last season with a 31.5 percent strikeout rate.

What you hope for with Adolfo is that he can make enough contact, under a 28 percent strikeout rate or so, to be able to use his power to hit 25-30 homers. Adolfo is a deep league “hope and a prayer” and nothing more.

 

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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.

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