As we near the start of the regular season it is time for some prospect bold predictions, starting with the American League.
Remember, the goal here is to be bold while being reasonable. Predicting Tyler O’Neill will hit 30 homers isn’t bold. He hit 24 last year and 32 in 2015. Predicting him to hit 20 in the majors? That is bold, but not out of the question. A murky ETA, but a lot of power potential could make it happen (this is not actually a bold prediction of mine, just an example).
Also, I am not going to go crazy with something that isn’t possible. I am not going to take the .0001% chance and say O’Neill will hit 50 homers this year. That isn’t going to happen for a lot of reasons.
The main goal here is to show players, and skills, I like and don’t like. If I project someone for 35 homers and he hits 31 – that really isn’t a loss to me. The prediction of power showed up, and if you picked him up hoping for the 35 homer power I assume you are happy with only 31.
As usual if you have any questions on any players, feel free to ask about them in the comment section below or on Twitter Follow @TheSportsGuy40
Without further ado – the American League.
- Chance Sisco will hit .320 between AAA and the majors this season (with 150 major league at bats), and the Orioles will regret the offseason signing of Welington Castillo.
Why it could happen: Sisco has a really good hit tool that has led to no worse than a .297 average during his minor league career.
Why it won’t: Teams don’t step away from millions of dollars unless the rookie overtaking them is really that much better. Castillo will most likely block Sisco for most of the with Sisco becoming a part-time player late in the season, if at all.
Boston Red Sox
- Rafael Devers puts up the stat line that coincides with his hype to the tune of a .300 average with 25 home runs while stealing 20 bases and gets a cup of coffee with the Red Sox in September.
Why it could happen: Devers has been a hyped prospect, but stat line readers might not completely understand why with the power not coming along yet. Going to AA in his age 20 season, I think this is the year he makes the jump. If Pablo Sandoval is really struggling in July, don’t be surprised if Devers is in the big leagues soon after.
Why it won’t: He is still young for his level and might not be able to tap into the 25 homer power in his first run through AA. Sandoval has looked fine this spring and has a lot of money left on his contract that could make it hard for the Red Sox to walk away, and at the moment Devers is not on the Red Sox 40-man roster.
Chicago White Sox
- Yoan Moncada has a 20 homer 40 steal 2017 with at least 15 homers and 30 steals at the big league level.
Why it could happen: Moncada is one of the best prospects in recent memory with a really nice power speed combination. He has an open route to playing time at second base. I think he could be Trea Turner from last year, except I believe in the power more with Moncada.
Why it won’t: The strikeouts might hold him back. It might keep him in the minors, limit his contact (obviously) for the homers, and lower his on base percentage giving him fewer chances to steal.
- Bradley Zimmer finally debuts, at age 24, and struggles mightily out of the gate. Then just when everyone in redraft gives up on him, he finishes off the last two months of the season with a .370 OBP and 15 steals – a 45 steal full season pace.
Why it could happen: Zimmer has long been a power speed threat for the Indians, and there is really no reason for him to not be up soon. The Indians have Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin in center and right field at the moment, so Zimmer is far from being blocked. His outfield defense should help him keep consistent playing time once up.
Why it won’t: Zimmer strikes out a lot – 31 percent last year; that will be what holds him back all around. That is why I expect him to struggle out of the gate. In roto and category leagues I love him; in points the 30 percent strikeout rate scares me off.
- Their 2016 first round pick, Matt Manning, strikes out 12 batters per nine and holds an ERA under 3.25 in at least 100 innings.
Why it could happen: Manning has a great fastball curveball combination for a 19-year-old and can hit the upper 90s with his fastball. He should be able to run through the low levels of the minors with his ability.
Why it won’t: I could leave this at “he is a pitcher” and move on. Basically, injuries are always a factor. Any little soreness will shut a pitching prospect down for about a month. Also, teams will get guys to work on things in the low minors and it will lead to bad stats. Manning needs to develop his change more, and that might lead to some random bad outings when they have him emphasize it.
- Derek Fisher goes 25/30 and debuts with the Astros. He also will bounce back in the batting average department and hit .270.
Why it could happen: Fisher is on the cusp of a promotion and has shown a power speed combination in the minors. He has had at least 21 homers and 28 steals in the past two seasons. The strikeout rate took a little jump last season, but I think he can improve on it a little bit this year.
Why it won’t: Fisher might see another jump in the wrong direction for the strikeout rate and he hasn’t shown the 25 home run power yet. The Astros offseason moves to add Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran, and Nori Aoki hurt his chances of making an impact anytime before August unless there is a long-term injury to one, and it might even take two of those players.
Kansas City Royals
- Josh Staumont racks up 200 strikeouts in the minors.
Why it could happen: He has been a high strikeout pitcher in his minor league career to this point with an eye-popping 225 strikeouts in 163.1 innings. He has a few great pitches in his arsenal featuring an elite fastball.
Why it won’t: He also walks a ton of hitters (136) in his minor league career. He could also be converted to a reliever at some point this season where he has been able to hit over 100 mph. I don’t think it happens this season, though, because the Royals have no reason to rush his development and they don’t really have the best farm system.
Los Angelos Angels
- People will stop caring that Matt Thaiss is no longer a catcher when he hits 15 homers and .300 in his first full season.
Why it could happen: He had one of the better hit tools in the draft, and the Angels drafted him in the middle of the first round with no intention of trying to make that hit tool work at catcher.
Why it won’t: People never forget that someone is no longer a catcher and seem to hold it against them for years. I don’t think Thaiss has much different future potential than someone like Josh Bell at first base, but I will bet anything that throughout Thaiss’s prospect life he never gets viewed as highly as Bell.
- Fernando Romero is the top prospect in the organization by midseason while holding a sub 2.50 ERA and striking out over a batter an inning.
Why it could happen: He kind of fell off the prospect radar when he missed all but 12 innings across 2014 and 2015 after Tommy John Surgery, so it has been a slow climb back up the ladder even after the season he had last year. He has an upper 90s fastball that is by far the best pitch in his arsenal.
Why it won’t: He still needs a lot of development, already had Tommy John Surgery, and I don’t know if he has great secondary stuff.
New York Yankees
- Clint Frazier out earns Aaron Judge in dollar value for fantasy leagues in 2017.
Why it could happen: Frazier is the better prospect and offers better all around skills than Judge, who is most likely a one category player.
Why it won’t: Judge is closer to the majors and might start the season on the major league roster. Frazier has no real avenue to consistent playing time other than right field.
- Matt Chapman is this year’s Chris Carter and hits 40 homers between the major and minor leagues, with at least 20 coming in the majors, while hitting below .250
Why it could happen: Chapman has huge power and hit 36 homers last season while hitting .237. The Athletics have Ryon Healy, Trevor Plouffe, and Yonder Alonso slated to play DH, first, and third this season so there are spots for him to play.
Why it won’t: As noted above, the sub .250 average – that is because of all the strikeouts. Also, he plays in a pretty spacious ballpark, although Khris Davis was able to do damage there.
- Mitch Haniger wins AL Rookie of the Year.
Why it could happen: Haniger will not be the best rookie to play in the American League in 2017, but I think he could put up the best numbers. He has torn it up this spring and said he wants to steal 20 bases. I think .280 with a 20/20 season is a real possibility. He should get every day at bats from day one.
Why it won’t: He hasn’t ever shown the speed to be able to steal 20 bases, last season was the first time he showed his first round pedigree, and he could ultimately be just a AAAA player. If he has better stats, but they are close to someone who is a higher touted such as Andrew Benintendi or Yoan Moncada, he won’t get the votes.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Brent Honeywell and his screwball combine for a strikeout per inning and a sub three ERA over 150 innings between the major and minor leagues.
Why it could happen: He has shown great control for someone at his age in the minor leagues which should keep the baserunners to a minimum.
Why it won’t: The Rays might limit his innings this year and keep him to short outings. Plus all that typical pitching prospect risk.
- Anderson Tejeda hits 20 homers with a .280 average in his first full season in the US and pops up on some deep prospect lists this time next year.
Why it could happen: At just 18 in short season rookie ball he hit eight homers in just 94 at bats.
Why it won’t: He is really young. I have seen videos where he has been badly fooled by off-speed pitches that show he needs to get some better pitch recognition, but it should come as he gets older.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Last year’s second round pick, Bo Bichette, hits .290 with 20 home runs as a 19-year-old in his first full minor league season.
Why it could happen: Bichette has plus power and won the home run derby at the Under Armor All-American game. It doesn’t hurt that he comes from a baseball family.
Why it won’t: His swing might remind you of the days were you go mess around with a bunch of random movements before the pitch. Right now it doesn’t matter, but I will be interested to see if it matters as he climbs the ladder.