There are only weeks remaining in the minor league regular season a strong finish can really impress people. The time to act on these prospects is now, before their value takes a bump in the offseason when they jump up on scouts’ prospects lists.
Jesse Winker – OF, Cincinnati Reds
Winker was written off by some people after he struggled his way to a .229 average with only two home runs through the end of May, but as the weather warmed up so did Winker. In June alone he had only eight fewer hits than he had in April and May combined with the same amount of homers and a .321 average. His average cooled off in July, but he was able to keep a solid power stroke by hitting three more homers.
This month Winker has put it all together. Through only 58 at bats he has six homers to go along with a .379 average.
When looking at his numbers it is hard to tell exactly what it was that had him struggling earlier in the season. His walk rate each month has been in the mid to low teens with a strikeout rate in the upper teens. So far through August he actually has the worst rates in each category that he has had in any month this season.
His major issue to date in the minors has been his inability to hit left-handed pitching. Winker is only 16-for-75 (.213) against lefties this season with two homers. His career numbers against lefties aren’t much better; he is hitting .247 with a big outlier season in rookie ball where he hit .333 in 66 at bats.
Winker may have been passed up by some other top outfield prospects, but this month he has shown he still has the ability to do what people hoped he could do coming into the season. However, he might only get the chance to do it against right-handed pitchers in the majors.
Clint Frazier – OF, Cleveland Indians
To say Frazier has been on fire since the start of July might be an understatement. In his past 41 games Frazier is hitting .357 with five homers.
The biggest difference for Frazier over this recent streak is that he has noticeably cut down on his strikeouts. Through the end of June he was striking out in 28 percent of his at bats, but during his hot streak that number has dropped to a more manageable 22 percent.
If Frazier is able to keep his strikeouts at a reasonable level, he should be able to fly through the minors next season.
Frazier has also been able to provide some solid extra base power; he has 32 doubles so far this season.
Tim Anderson – SS, Chicago White Sox
Anderson is unlike the first two names on this list; although he has been hot recently, he has been putting up good numbers all season.
In a deep shortstop class Anderson is yet another name fantasy owners need to know. Anderson has hit .314/.350/.425 so far this season. His numbers have been even better this month; he is hitting .417 and is 8-for-9 in steal attempts.
Another thing that sets him apart from the other names on this list is his ability on the bases. After stealing only 10 bases in 83 games last season, Anderson has stole 45 bases in 57 attempts at the AA level.
Anderson isn’t expected to provide too much help in the power department, but people know he makes up for that with his speed. One of the concerns with Anderson is that he doesn’t walk enough, but if he is able to keep getting on base at the rate he is now people might be able to rest a little easier.
Reynaldo Lopez – P, Washington Nationals
I thought Lopez could really make a jump this season, but he struggled out of the gate and it didn’t get much better until recently.
Lopez hasn’t had trouble with his walks but he has become hittable at times. He has allowed a .330 BABIP this season which has contributed to his 4.22 season long ERA.
Over his last four starts he is holding opponents to a .209 average with only one homer. During that stretch he has a 2.52 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with a strikeout per inning. The only difference in his numbers is with the amount of hits he has allowed, but the sample size isn’t large enough to really say anything definitive about it.
Lopez possesses a great fastball, but that might be all he has at this point. His secondary pitches don’t seem to be playing well enough for him this season. I think he can still bounce back next season after his breakout last season.
Willson Contreras – C, Chicago Cubs
I hate to do this – I really do, but for the second straight week I am devoting time to a catching prospect. While the other prospects on this list are fairly well-known in dynasty leagues, Contreras is more off the radar.
He is having a big breakout this season, hitting .397 so far this month to go on top of a .331/.412/.477 line for the season. His worst month to date was July when he had a .278 average, but he actually walked more times (20) than he struck-out (14).
Contreras was originally a third baseman before being moved to catcher, a switch that might help his bat in the majors.
Contreras doesn’t have a big power stroke with the evidence of only six homers in 384 at bats, but he has 30 doubles on the season which is only five behind the AA leader.
He has been able to cut down on his strikeouts this season limiting them to only 14 percent of his at bats while walking at a career high rate of 11 percent.
The Cubs do have a pretty good catcher at the moment (if you haven’t heard) in Kyle Schwarber, but a lot of people do not expect Schwarber to stay at the position long-term.
Contreras is probably a player that fantasy owners can wait on, although all leagues are different. I have been in leagues in the past where owners hoarded catchers who could hit. For now he is a deep league add only, but don’t sleep on him if he gets off to a hot start next season.
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