Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, April 2018
Each month, The Dynasty Guru will provide a prospect update that includes notable performances (good and bad), assignments, promotions, trades, injuries, and suspensions. Most importantly, the monthly update will examine prospects with increasing and decreasing fantasy value, from the elite to the obscure.
April saw the beginning of the 2018 minor league season in full-season leagues. Since the beginning of April, several notable prospects exceeded rookie limits and others arrived in the majors. As the season is less than one month old, please note this bright, flashing warning: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!
Notable Outfield Prospect Performances
The Graduated Outfield Prospect
Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins. The Marlins named Brinson the leadoff hitter and starting centerfielder after a strong spring. Unfortunately, he did not carry his hot hitting into the regular season. In fact, over a 10 game stretch in April, Brinson went 1 for 36 with 15 strikeouts. When he does make contact, it is often on the ground (58%) and without authority (25.4% soft). The struggle is real, but the Marlins continue to trot Brinson out to center every day. Grade Change: hit tool decreases from 50 to 45.
Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds. In a crowded Reds outfield, Winker carved out a sizeable role as the leadoff hitter against right-handed pitchers. Although no one will confuse him with Billy Hamilton, he continues to get on-base at a steady pace. Entering May, Winker boasts a .414 on-base percentage. Not only is he walking at his usually high rates (15.2%), but he is spraying line drives (32.8%) to all fields. The hit tool is impressive; now, he just needs to find his power stroke.
Franchy Cordero, San Diego Padres. An early-season injury to Manuel Margot opened playing time for Cordero and he immediately took advantage. In his first game, he blasted a home run and, in just 67 at-bats, he has six total home runs. When he makes contact, it is loud as Cordero is 16th in exit velocity and hit the farthest home run (489 feet) of the season. The question moving forward is whether he will make enough contact (34.2 K%). Grade Change: power tool increases from 50 to 55.
Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals. Bader is a solid player, providing pop, speed, and defense. A stacked Cardinals outfield, however, relegates him to fourth outfielder status. If an injury opens playing time, Bader could surprise.
The Major League Outfield Prospect
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves. The mega-prospect, El Numero Uno, Acuña finally arrived! A slow start at Triple-A (.139/.244/.167 over his first nine games) and Preston Tucker’s solid placeholder performance briefly delayed his debut. Since Acuña arrived, he has been electric, with 4 doubles, a home run, and a stolen base in just 5 games. It should be a fun ride!
Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers. An injury to Yasiel Puig prompted the promotion of Verdugo. It is unclear if the move is permanent or only temporary. Considering Corey Seager is out for the season, causing Chris Taylor to shift to shortstop, Verdugo could seize semi-regular playing time across all three outfield positions. Regardless, he is a promising bat, with a potential plus hit tool and borderline average power.
Austin Slater, San Francisco Giants. It took injuries to Hunter Pence and Mac Williamson for Slater to finally return to the majors. Last year, he performed well in his debut (.282/.339/.402). This year, Slater is off to a tremendous start in Triple-A, hitting .358/.435/.642 with 11 extra-base hits in 14 games. Hopefully, the Giants provide him an extended look. With borderline average or better tools across the board, Slater could be a solid fantasy contributor.
Others of Note:
- Anthony Santander, Baltimore Orioles
- Noel Cuevas, Colorado Rockies
- Victor Reyes, Detroit Tigers
- Andrew Stevenson, Washington Nationals
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals. Last year in Low-A, Soto was on a tear (.360/.427/.523) before suffering a broken ankle on May 2nd. Subsequent injuries further derailed his promising season. Returning to Low-A this year, he picked up where he left off, destroying the level (.373/.486/.814) over 16 games. The Nationals quickly promoted Soto to High-A, where he has continued to impress (.269/.387/.500). Thus far, he has arguably been the most impressive player in the Minors, hitting for average, power, and discipline (15-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio).
Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals. Carnival sideshow strong man, O’Neill, blasted 6 home runs in an 11 game span to start the season in Triple-A. This power performance earned him a brief major league debut, in which he solely operated as a pinch hitter. Now back at Triple-A, he will need an injury or two to find regular playing time this year for the Cardinals.
Seuly Matias, Kansas City Royals. After hitting 4 home runs in his first 3 games, Matias was an early season darling. Since then, he has hit 3 more home runs and continues to showcase his plus power. Regrettably, many forget Matias has an extremely unrefined hit tool, leading to a 28-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Of course, his early production is noteworthy, but proceed with caution. Grade Change: risk decreases from 30 to 35, moving Matias into the top 200 overall.
Myles Straw, Houston Astros. Through April, Straw leads the Minors with 14 stolen bases, while hitting .361/.461/.458. A unique player, he hits for no power and purposefully drives the ball the other way most of the time (51.5%). In an era in which stolen bases are becoming more and more rare, Straw could provide an excellent source of cheap speed if and when he receives a promotion.
Others of Note:
- Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds
- Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays
- Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (4 HR, 5 SB)
- Christin Stewart, Detroit Tigers
- Jeisson Rosario, San Diego Padres
- Conner Capel, Cleveland Indians
- Oscar Mercado, St. Louis Cardinals (4 HR, 9 SB)
- Calvin Mitchell, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Luis Alexander Basabe, Chicago White Sox
- Austin Dean, Miami Marlins
Anthony Alford, Toronto Blue Jays. Another year, another injury for Alford. A hamstring strain suffered in Spring Training delayed his start to the season. Since he returned, Alford has struggled, hitting just .222/.327/.267 with 18 strikeouts (34.6%) and 0-for-3 on the bases.
Mickey Moniak, Philadelphia Phillies. Despite an unsightly second half last year in Low-A (.196/.234/.281), Moniak moves to High-A this year. Unsurprisingly, he continues to flounder, slashing .213/.228/.258 with a 22-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Although it is early, it may already be time to move on. Grade Change: hit tool decreases from 55 to 50 and power tool decreases from 40 to 35, dropping Moniak from the top 200 overall.
Jhailyn Ortiz, Philadelphia Phillies. In his first taste of full-season ball, Ortiz is off to a rough start. Not only is he hitting just .158/.250/.246 with 25 strikeouts (39.1%), but he is now on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder.
Ryan Cordell, Chicago White Sox. Forever a fantasy tease, Cordell possesses a dynamic power and speed package. Plagued by injuries throughout his career, he once more is on the shelf with a fractured clavicle. To add insult to injury, Cordell was atrocious in 10 Triple-A games before going down, hitting .132/.150/.184 with 17 strikeouts (41.5%).
Others of Note:
- Starling Heredia, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Tristan Lutz, Milwaukee Brewers
- Lolo Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Wes Rogers, Colorado Rockies
- Cornelius Randolph, Philadelphia Phillies
Additional Outfield Prospect Notes
- Victor Robles suffered hyperextended left elbow attempting a diving catch. Nevertheless, the injury likely sidelines him for several months.
- Luis Robert and Jose Siri are still recovering from thumb injuries suffered during Spring Training. Reportedly, Robert is still one month away from his full-season debut in High-A.
- After a strong start in Low-A (.283/.382/.457), Jo Adell is on the disabled list with a thumb injury.
- Kyle Lewis is on the road to recovery, playing games in extended Spring Training.
- Cristian Pache hit his first career home run on April 26th.
- Garrett Whitley is out for the season following right labrum surgery.
- A week into the season, Bryan Reynolds broke his hand, necessitating surgery.
- Reportedly, recent international signees, George Valera and Trent Deveaux, are drawing rave reviews in extended Spring Training.
- So far so good (and healthy) for Austin Meadows (.313/.380/.453) and Roman Quinn (.310/.372/.437 with 9 stolen bases).