Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, April 2019
Each month, The Dynasty Guru will provide a prospect update, including 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.
At the beginning of April, TDG reviewed early assignments, injuries, and notable rankings movement for infielders, outfielders, and pitchers. Since then, several notable prospects exceeded rookie limits and others arrived in the majors. As this update only reviews performances for one month, please note this bright, flashing warning: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!
Notable Outfield Prospect Performances
The Rising Outfield Prospect
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox. The top performing prospect this year, Robert posted video game numbers in High-A, hitting .453/.512/.920 with 8 home runs and 8 stolen bases. Finally healthy (for the most part), he is harnessing his elite tools. Robert is a scout’s dream, with a statuesque frame, huge bat speed, and plus-or-better power and speed. His skill set pays dividends in the field and, now, at the plate. Should his hit tool hold up, Robert is a top 10 prospect. However, his hit tool remains questionable despite his remarkable start. Notably, he is over-aggressive, prone to swing-and-miss (16.6% swinging strikes), pull-heavy (49.1%), and fly ball-heavy (55.6%). It will be fascinating to see how Robert handles Double-A after his promotion to begin May.
Wow. And now this: his 8th homer of the year. #WhiteSox phenom Luis Robert is nearly halfway to 20-20 (he also has 8 SB) — in just 19 games!
Check out his absolutely absurd numbers: https://t.co/ogWpTK0E4c pic.twitter.com/1p3nRI1VkV
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 30, 2019
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros. A large and imposing 6’5” and 225 pounds, Alvarez has enormous raw power, which has been on display all year (12 home runs, .530 ISO, and 54.5% HR/FB!). He is not only a power hitter, though. Alvarez demonstrates superb plate discipline and almost uniformly hits the ball to all fields (32.3% L, 33.9% C, 33.9% R). Further, he remarkably suffers little swing-and-miss despite his size (8.9% swinging strikes). The main knock on Alvarez is his defense. In fact, Fangraphs listed him as a designated hitter! Regardless where he ends up, he will be in the lineup, which is all that matters in fantasy. Considering the Astros starting designated hitter (Tyler White) has one run-batted in, it is only a matter of time before Alvarez arrives in the majors.
Just another day in the office for Yordan Alvarez. #20STROng pic.twitter.com/fM2CVsuko0
— Round Rock Express (@RRExpress) April 28, 2019
The Graduated Outfield Prospect
Victor Robles, Washington Nationals. By all accounts, Robles is living up to the hype, with 5 home runs, 7 stolen bases, and 21 runs in 29 games. While his numbers look great so far, he has some troubling underlying stats. Specifically, Robles has made just 25.3% hard contact with the seventh worst average exit velocity (81.1 mph). Indeed, his expected stats tell an entirely different story about his performance (.210 xBA and .345 xSLG). In addition, he is quite aggressive at the plate, with a poor 36-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Still, Robles offers rare five-category production (not just potential) with elite upside. If this is how he performs when he struggles, then just imagine how good he will be when he picks it up!
Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers. A.J. Pollock just landed on the injured list with yet another serious elbow injury. The main beneficiary likely will be Verdugo, who is off to a fast start (.342/.368/.616). A pure, high-contact, and disciplined hitter, he rarely swings and misses (11.8% strikeouts and 4.2% swinging strikes) and generates a lot of all-fields, hard contact (45.3% to center). Further, his above-average raw power is showing up more often in games thus far. Do not doubt Verdugo’s bat and ability to make a fantasy impact.
Others of Note:
- Austin Dean, Miami Marlins
The Major League Outfield Prospect
Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox. In March, the White Sox signed Jimenez to a six-year contract extension, putting to bed any service time considerations. Since then, he has started slowly (.241/.294/.380) with little of his trademark power and plenty of swing-and-miss (29.4% strikeouts and 14.2% swinging strikes). His aggressive approach has resulted in some growing pains. Currently, he is on the injured list with a right ankle sprain. Be patient through his injury and early struggles. Jimenez is a potential special hitter with literal light-tower, 80-grade raw power, elite bat speed, advanced pitch recognition, and all-fields ability.
Christin Stewart, Detroit Tigers. Long an underrated prospect due to his defensive limitations, Stewart packs serious punch, with an astounding .241 career isolated slugging percentage. This year, he is hitting for even more power (.296 ISO, .603 xSLG)! Stewart is a prototypical, old-school power-hitter with plus (or better) raw power and a leverage swing to tap into it (50% FB). A right quad strain has sidelined him since mid-April, but he is nearing a rehab assignment.
Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates. Once fully recovered from a broken hamate bone last year, he exploded over his last 45 games (.343/.405/.500). This late season surge has continued into this year, including a fast start in Triple-A (.367/.446/.735). Injuries to the Pirates’ outfield opened a path to playing time for Reynolds, and, along with Cole Tucker, he debuted on April 20th. Incredibly, he has continued killing it (.414/.433/.724)! Now, with the return of Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, Reynolds like moves to a part-time role. While he does not have the most exciting tools, he could develop into an average-to-above hitter with average power, which has substantial value in most formats.
Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds. A year later than expected, a delay largely due to a myriad of injuries, the Reds promoted Senzel to the majors. Although he was less than stellar in his brief 8-game run in Triple-A, he is an elite, gap-to-gap, line drive hitter. A college shortstop, Senzel initially played third base professionally before shifting to second base last year, and even moonlighting at shortstop. This year, he has fully transitioned to center field, where he will presumably receive most of his playing time in the majors. Senzel is a difference-making bat with power and some speed. In all formats, owners should target him, including as a high-priority FAAB claim in redraft leagues.
Skye Bolt, Oakland Athletics. The promotion of Senzel yesterday overshadows the (equally?) exciting promotion of Bolt. He is more than just a pretty (awesome) name! A former fourth round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Bolt has always had significant tools. Not until last year did he begin to realize his potential (.260/.347/.474 with 19 home runs and 19 stolen bases). As such, the Athletics added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. This year, Bolt has dominated Triple-A (.333/.409/.692), and, with Ramon Laureano and Robbie Grossman struggling, he could carve out a role in the majors.
4/21 Sleeper Prospect of the Day:
Skye Bolt, OF, OAK, 25.27, 6'2" 187, Triple-A
2-for-4, HR, strong start (.315/.351/.574 w/ 2 HR & 3 SB), power/speed upside, questionable hit tool, great name, on 40-man roster, raw prospect out of college, now nearly ready, likely 2019 impact
— Jesse Roche (@jaroche6) April 22, 2019
Others of Note:
- Ryan Cordell, Chicago White Sox
- Pablo Reyes, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Braden Bishop, Seattle Mariners
- Mark Zagunis, Chicago Cubs
- Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins
The Good: Top 240 Prospect
Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners. The prize of the Edwin Diaz trade, Kelenic has not disappointed in his full-season debut (.337/.430/.616). A pure hitter, Kelenic has a graceful left-handed, line-drive stroke with an advanced approach, superb barrel-feel, and limited swing-and-miss. Further, he is resoundingly answering the biggest question about his offensive profile: power. Thus far, his power is showing up in spades (5 HR, .278 ISO, and 25% HR/FB). Not only does Kelenic have exceptional tools, he has present polish and impressive work ethic.
Cristian Pache, Atlanta Braves. An elite defender, Pache is beginning to show his bat can nearly match his glove. One of the youngest players in the Southern League, he is the second best hitter (.321/.363/.571), already with 12 extra base hits in 22 games. Many of the same issues that plagued Pache in the past do persist, including an overly aggressive, extremely pull-heavy (68.3%) approach and some swing-and-miss (27.1% strikeouts and 15.1% swinging strikes). In addition, despite double-plus speed, he continues to find little success on the bases (4-for-7). Regardless, Pache is making real progress, and possesses high-end tools with a high floor given his defensive ability.
Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres. When Naylor finds balance between his high-contact approach and huge raw power, he is a dangerous hitter. Just like last year, he enjoyed April, hitting .305/.393/.590 with 7 home runs and a 14-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Like Yordan Alvarez, Naylor likely is best employed as a designated hitter. Unfortunately, the National League has yet to make this possible.
Others of Note:
- Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds (.292/.416/.431)
- Drew Waters, Atlanta Braves (.319/.366/.521)
- Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants (.270/.422/.587)
- Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins (.290/.395/.536)
- Seth Beer, Houston Astros (.303/.390/.494)
- Daniel Johnson, Cleveland Indians (.275/.378/.507)
The Good: Non-Top 240 Prospect
Will Benson, Cleveland Indians. On April 18th, Benson hit 4 home runs! With the same size as Yordan Alvarez (6’5″ and 225), he possesses enormous 70-grade raw power. Further, Benson has the athleticism of a small forward, leading to 8 stolen bases this month. Although he has showcased impressive power and speed, he also still suffers far too much swing-and-miss (41.6% strikeouts). On the bright side, some of his strikeout issues are due to his patient approach (16.9% walks and 4.6 pitches per plate appearance).
Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox. A seventh round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Duran has been unstoppable since turning pro. In fact, he is a career .370/.411/.522 hitter so far, including .404/.462/.553 in April this year in High-A. Duran is an all-fields, line drive hitter with some raw power potential, but his linear swing limits his game power to below-average. Most importantly, he is super fast, with double-plus speed which he fearless employs on the bases (12-for-15) and in the video below.
Jarren Duran first to third. Quick pic.twitter.com/QK7rYi3ExO
— Mike martin (@Mwm7989) April 28, 2019
Rhett Wiseman, Washington Nationals. Once a well-regarded prospect, and former third round pick, Wiseman languished in the lower minors until this year. Few expected much in the difficult Eastern League from the nearly 25-year-old who repeated High-A the year before. Then, he launched 8 home runs in his first 11 games in Double-A. Notably, Kiley McDaniel has stated his performance is “not a fluke.” Indeed, Wiseman is hitting the cover off the ball (.321/.380/.741 with 31% line drives), and has already rebounded from a brief late-April slump.
Others of Notes:
- Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals (.287/.343/.511)
- Oscar Mercado, Cleveland Indians (.302/.394/.500 with 10 stolen bases)
- Steele Walker, Chicago White Sox (.349/.423/.566)
- Lolo Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates (.337/.390/.554) – click the link for my live look notes
- Yonathan Daza, Colorado Rockies (.388/.419/.657)
- Vince Fernandez, Colorado Rockies (.307/.419/.591)
- Oscar Gonzalez, Cleveland Indians (.351/.357/.505)
- Jorge Ona, San Diego Padres (.367/.441/.582)
- Luis Liberato, Seattle Mariners (.303/.366/.562)
- Ben Ruta, New York Yankees (.386/.494/.557)
- Isiah Gilliam, New York Yankees (.333/.422/.526)
- Jerar Encarnacion, Miami Marlins (.352/.424/.591)
- Robert Neustrom, Baltimore Orioles (.329/.429/.529)
- Trey Cabbage, Minnesota Twins (.300/.395/.600)
- Steven Kwan, Cleveland Indians (.352/.438/.484)
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros. While Yordan Alvarez has been incredible, Tucker has been poor, hitting just .173 with 19.1% swinging strikes. At least, he still exhibits his typical power (5 HR and .234 ISO) and aggressive base running (5 SB).
Victor Victor Mesa, Miami Marlins. The initial culture shock for Cuban players often tanks their early career performance. Hopefully that is the case for Mesa. The Marlins aggressively assigned him to High-A, where has has been a disaster, hitting .226/.250/.238 with one extra base hit. Mesa has displayed excellent speed and little swing-and-miss (6.6% swinging strikes), but far too much swing (3.47 pitches per plate appearance).
Others of Note:
- Trevor Larnach, Minnesota Twins (.244/.297/.322)
- Jordyn Adams, Los Angeles Angels (.177/.313/.253)
- Brandon Marsh, Los Angeles Angels (.220/.312/.256)
- Seuly Matias, Kansas City Royals (40.4% strikeouts)
- Daz Cameron, Detroit Tigers (.186/.297/.326)
- Julio Pablo Martinez, Texas Rangers (.188/.250/.318, promoted to High-A)
- Adam Haseley, Philadelphia Phillies (.188/.293/.333)
- Connor Scott, Miami Marlins (.177/.253/.291)
- Tristan Lutz, Milwaukee Brewers (.182/.250/.299)
- DJ Peters, Los Angeles Dodgers (40.4% strikeouts)
- Jeisson Rosario, San Diego Padres (.185/.330/.217)
- Anthony Alford, Toronto Blue Jays (.138/.222/.277 with 41.1% strikeouts)
- Blake Rutherford, Chicago White Sox (.156/.207/.247)
Additional Outfield Prospect Notes
- Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (wrist) made his season debut in Double-A yesterday.
- Lazaro Armenteros, Oakland Athletics is having a unique season, with strikeouts (42 or 42.9%) or walks (18 or 18.4%) in 61.2% of his plate appearances. In addition, he has 5 home runs (.241 ISO) and 4 stolen bases.
- Dylan Cozens, Philadelphia Phillies saw Armenteros and raised him with strikeouts (41.2%) or walks (21.2%) in 62.4% of his plate appearances.
- Notable injuries: Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels; Estevan Florial, New York Yankees; Bubba Thompson, Texas Rangers; Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants; Corey Ray, Milwaukee Brewers; Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles; Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners; Kyle Isbel, Kansas City Royals; Jeren Kendall, Los Angeles Dodgers; Josh Stowers, New York Yankees; Micker Adolfo, Chicago White Sox; Joe McCarthy, Tampa Bay Rays; Randy Arozarena, St. Louis Cardinals; Tristan Pompey, Miami Marlins