Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, May 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 May, TDG reviewed April performances 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 Catcher Prospect Performances
The Rising Catcher Prospect
Sam Huff, Texas Rangers. Over 30 games in Low-A, Huff was unstoppable, slugging .796 with 15 home runs. Since his promotion to High-A on May 9th, he has continued his torrid pace, hitting .346/.384/.577 with 3 more home runs (and another already in June!). Last month, I noted, Huff possesses legit, 70-grade raw power, emanating from a strong and large 6’4″ and 230-pound frame, but struggles with contact. This remains the case this month. Despite his huge numbers, he suffers concerning amounts of swing-and-miss (19% swinging strikes) and utilizes an overly aggressive approach (30-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in May). Even with a 40-grade hit tool, Huff can impact the game with his massive power and much improved defense (1 error, 2 passed balls, and 54.8% caught stealing).
We have ourselves a new HR leader!@Rangers No. 21 prospect Sam Huff drills his 12th blast for @HickoryCrawdads to claim sole possession of the MiLB lead.
?️: https://t.co/jQzAcuwCSD pic.twitter.com/hAkcCbnHVp
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) April 30, 2019
Francisco Mejia, San Diego Padres. With more than 45 days on the active roster, Mejia exceeded rookie limits. On May 11th, he landed on the injured list with a left knee sprain. On May 21st, he began a rehab assignment, and, on June 1st, the Padres officially optioned him to Triple-A. This move likely will allow Mejia to receive regular playing time and regain his confidence after a poor start to the year in part-time duty (.167/.207/.259). Patience remains a must for all Mejia owners in dynasty formats. In redraft, even in two-catcher leagues, owners can move on.
The Major League Catcher Prospect
Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers. Austin Barnes suffered a minor left groin strain, sending him to the injured list. As such, the Dodgers called up Smith, who will receive regular playing time while Barnes recovers. Prior to his call up, he was on fire, going 15-for-39 with 4 home runs over his last 10 games in Triple-A. Smith is a patient (4.46 pitches/plate appearance and 15.1% walks), power hitter with reasonable swing-and-miss. His fly ball-heavy approach (51%) maximizes his above-average raw power, but also likely limits ability to hit for average. It is unclear whether his promotion is permanent, but he is worth an add in all formats.
Andrew Knizner, St. Louis Cardinals. A serious, “unprecedented” right thumb strain likely will sideline Yadier Molina for awhile. Unfortunately, Matt Wieters likely will receive the majority of playing time while Molina is on the mend. Still, the Cardinals promoted Knizner on the last day of the month to serve as a backup. This is a situation worth monitoring. Knizner is a career .307 hitter in the minors (.286/.355/.450 with just 12.9% strikeouts this year).
Others of Note:
- Austin Allen, San Diego Padres
- Garrett Stubbs, Houston Astros
- Seby Zavala, Chicago White Sox
- Jacob Nottingham, Milwaukee Brewers
- Tomas Nido, New York Mets (graduated)
Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays. Last month’s rising catcher prospect, Kirk received a promotion to High-A in early May. The Florida State League is a difficult transition for hitters given its cavernous parks. Nevertheless, Kirk has made the transition look effortless, hitting .393/.477/.571 with 10 doubles over his first 17 games. The more he hits, the less his diminutive size matters.
Jake Rogers, Detroit Tigers. An elite defensive catcher, Rogers is showing his bat is just as good as his glove. A dominant ten-game stretch in Double-A to start the month (.412/.500/.765) lead to a promotion to Triple-A, where he has continued to hit for power (.300 ISO). Like Will Smith, Rogers is a fly ball-heavy hitter (51.1%) with underrated, above-average raw power. Indeed, Rogers is comparable to Smith at the plate, though likely with a half grade less hit and power. Further, he should follow Smith to the majors soon, with Grayson Greiner not posing any threat to his future playing time.
Eric Haase, Cleveland Indians. This month, Haase received a three-day promotion to the majors, where he went 0-for-6 with 4 strikeouts. Sadly, his stay in the majors was extremely brief, and he was unable to showcase his huge power. In Triple-A, he has been an incredibly consistent hitter, tallying 1 double, 7 home runs, 9 walks, and 24 strikeouts in 64 at-bats in both April and May (.344 and .343 ISO, respectively).
Others of Note:
- Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks (.289/.354/.478)
- Ronaldo Hernandez, Tampa Bay Rays (.315/.312/.494, 0 walks)
- Luis Campusano, San Diego Padres (.275/.372/.513)
- Ryan Jeffers, Minnesota Twins (.315/.370/.511)
- Alex Jackson, Atlanta Braves (.315 ISO, 9 home runs)
- Deivy Grullon, Philadelphia Phillies (.316/.364/.541, 30 strikeouts)
- David Fry, Milwaukee Brewers (.336/.395/.564)
- Chris Betts, Tampa Bay Rays (.247/.381/.538)
- Patrick Mazeika, New York Mets (.298/.350/.574)
- Julio Rodriguez, St. Louis Cardinals (.333/.397/.536)
MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals. Just when you thought Melendez had nowhere to go but up after April, he was even worse in May. Remarkably, his on-base percentage fell from .260 to .231, while he hit just .153/.207/.294 with 36 strikeouts (39.1%) for the month. On the year, only teammate Seuly Matias (27.2%) has a higher swinging strike percentage than Melendez (26.9%). In fact, Matias and Melendez lead the next qualified player (Ibandel Isabel, below) by nearly two percentage points!
Payton Henry, Milwaukee Brewers. After a solid, but flawed, April performance, Henry cratered in May (.143/.220/.231 with 39 strikeouts). In his last ten games to end the month, he struck out 22 times! Few players can match his atrocious 80-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio
Others of Note:
- William Contreras, Atlanta Braves (.213/.271/.326)
- Brett Cumberland, Baltimore Orioles (.188/.316/.250)
- Hagen Danner, Toronto Blue Jays (.100/.111/.133, 24-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio)
- Chase Vallot, Kansas City Royals (41 strikeouts)
Additional Catcher Prospect Notes
- Gabriel Moreno, Toronto Blue Jays received an assignment to Low-A on May 15th, and he is off to a fast start (.333/.375/.639). Moreno is one of my 2019 Breakout Prospects!
- Sam McMillan, Detroit Tigers walked 18 times this month, good for a .447 on-base percentage!
- The Diamondbacks demoted Andy Yerzy from Low-A to extended spring training.
- Notable May promotions: Ben Rortvedt, Minnesota Twins (High-A to Double-A); Riley Adams, Toronto Blue Jays (High-A to Double-A)
- Notable May injuries: Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics (torn meniscus, out 4-6 weeks); Josh Breaux, New York Yankees (arm)
Notable First Base Prospect Performances
The Rising First Base Prospect
Seth Beer, Houston Astros. Beer-related puns will forever plague (or grace) Seth, depending on your stance on puns. I happen to love puns so I am rooting hard for his continued success. This month, the 2018 first round pick earned a promotion to Double-A after hitting a blistering .385/.468/.846 with 5 home runs in his first 11 games. Since then, Beer has enjoyed a strong start in the Texas League (.327/.453/.500). As a polished college bat, he should perform well in the lower minors, but he has taken his performance a step further. Not only is Beer hitting for power, but he is limiting swing-and-miss and exhibiting all-fields contact. While few doubt he can hit, he is a poor defender, currently splitting time between first base and left field. Like Yordan Alvarez, Beer likely is a long-term designated hitter.
— Corpus Christi Hooks (@cchooks) May 26, 2019
Pete Alonso, New York Mets. Although Alonso hit 10 home runs in May, he experienced his first real struggles. Indeed, his batting average plummeted 59 points between April 27th and May 25th. Further, he displayed little patience this month, with just 3.72 pitches/plate appearance (down from 4.41 in April) and a 31-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Regardless, Alonso has already developed into a premier power bat in the majors, with the third most home runs (19). In dynasty formats, he is a top 5 option at first base and a top 50 overall player.
The Major League First Base Prospect
Kevin Cron, Arizona Diamondbacks. After obliterating Triple-A (.339/.437/.800 with 21 home runs), Cron finally received a promotion to the majors on May 24th. Since he arrived, he has only received two starts in eight games. However, Christian Walker had a terrible May (.208/.283/.375 with a 33-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio), and it is only a matter of time before Cron overtakes him. This is a situation worth very closely monitoring as whoever wins this in-season competition will have fantasy relevance in all formats.
Others of Note:
- Matt Beaty, Los Angeles Dodgers
Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox. A hulking 6’4″ and 238 pounds, Casas has gigantic power, which was on full display this month (.315/.396/.652). Notably, he drives the ball to all fields (35/30/35) and he can leave any part of the ballpark. Despite his success, Casas does suffer some swing-and-miss (25.5% strikeouts and 14% swinging strikes). Given his size, he likely will continue to suffer contact issues, creating some pressure on his batting average. However, Casas has huge power upside, and, even if it comes with a .250 average, 30+ home runs will play.
Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians. An explosive May (.302/.374/.740 with 12 home runs) has Bradley knocking on the door to the majors. Of course, he still suffers significant swing-and-miss (32.9% strikeouts and 17.3% swinging strikes), and he may never develop anything more than a 40-grade hit tool. Regardless, Bradley has easy plus power, which he has reached in games throughout his professional career.
Lewin Diaz, Minnesota Twins. Last year was a disaster for Diaz (.224/.255/.344) in which a fractured thumb mercifully ended his season. Returning to High-A this year, he has thrived, including a powerful May (.317/.351/.702 with 10 home runs). Diaz possesses plus (or better) raw power, solid bat-to-ball skills, and reasonable swing-and-miss. Still, he remains far too aggressive (3.67 pitches/plate appearance and 5.7% walks).
Others of Note:
- Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (.341/.365/.512)
- Will Craig, Pittsburgh Pirates (.282/.351/.583)
- Curtis Terry, Texas Rangers (.274/.350/.585)
- Brad Zunica, San Diego Padres (.275/.366/.575)
- Mason Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates (.293/.388/.657, 9 home runs, 37 strikeouts)
- Mike Ford, New York Yankees (.315/.440/.603)
- Luis Castro, Colorado Rockies (.306/.450/.706, 9 home runs)
- Sean Bouchard, Colorado Rockies (.350/.398/.538)
Tyler Nevin, Colorado Rockies. Last year, Nevin finished on fire, slashing .359/.423/.544 over his final 63 games, then leading the Arizona Fall League in hitting (.426/.535/.593). Unfortunately, he has failed to carry over any of his late season magic to Double-A. While the Eastern League can be a difficult transition, Nevin has truly tanked, hitting just .221/.337/.302 (.185/.279/.261 in May).
Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals. Something must be in the water in High-A as Pratto, Melendez, and Matias have completely fallen apart this year. In fact, Wilmington is hitting just .199/.286/.300 as a team! In May, Pratto hit rock bottom, slashing .144/.230/.222 with 39 strikeouts. The dream of a potential plus hitter is dwindling.
Others of Note:
- Nate Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays (.216/.333/.311, 0 home runs)
- Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays (.136/.235/.250)
- Ibandel Isabel, Cincinnati Reds (47 strikeouts!)
- Chad Spanberger, Toronto Blue Jays (.204/.242/.323)
Additional First Base Prospect Notes
- Three-true-outcome slugger Josh Ockimey, Boston Red Sox walked 25 times this month!
- The Tigers demoted Reynaldo Rivera from High-A to Low-A.
- The Royals released Frank Schwindel.
Notable Second Base Prospect Performances
The Rising Second Base Prospect
Isan Diaz, Miami Marlins. Last year, Diaz struggled in Triple-A (.204/.281/.358) and, this year, he hit just .217/.319/.342 through May 11th. Since then, however, he has hit .375/.451/.722 with 9 home runs over his next 20 games. Diaz possesses plus raw power and can truly launch the ball to all fields. Further, he has a solid hit tool with a patient, sometimes too passive, approach. As such, he occasionally resembles a three-true-outcomes slugger. With Starlin Castro struggling and a free agent after the season (club option), Diaz should receive an audition in the majors soon.
— R. J Diaz (@Raul47Diaz) May 25, 2019
Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox. After a blazing start, Chavis has predictably slowed, hitting .213/.293/.348 with 32 strikeouts (32.3%) over his final 22 games in May. Swing-and-miss has always been a part of his game, and he has been nothing but consistent in the majors (29.7% strikeouts and 17.9% swinging strikes). Despite his contact issues, Chavis has exhibited an improved, all-fields approach, and, of course, his huge power. In fact, all ten of his home runs have traveled between 426 and 459 feet! Ultimately, he profiles as a low-average slugging second baseman (he is surprisingly solid in the field), similar to Dan Uggla.
The Major League* Second Base Prospect
The Studs: Top 20 Prospects
*Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers. Technically, Hiura is no longer in the majors, as the Brewers demoted him on June 3rd in favor of Travis Shaw. It is difficult to spin this move as anything other than service time manipulation. Indeed, Hiura has 2 less extra base hits and 4 less hits than Shaw in 85 less plate appearances. In addition, Shaw has two remaining options. Regardless, Hiura will be back. In his debut, he flashed his elite hitting ability (.281/.333/.531), with 29.3% line drives, 46.2% hard hits, and 5 home runs (35.7% HR/FB). While he generally excelled, he did have some issues with contact (61%) and swing-and-miss (33.3% strikeouts and 20.2% swinging strikes). Of course, this is a small sample size either way. All the same, it was an impressive debut. Hiura is a potential plus hitter with plus power, a rarity at second base.
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies. The third overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Rodgers finally made his debut, nearly four years later. Prior to his debut, he was having his way with the PCL (.356/.421/.644), with an incredible 18-game run (.451/.494/.831). Since arriving, in an extremely small sample size, he has performed well at the plate (.324/.378/.382 with 36.4% line drives) and he has played primarily second base. There likely will be growing pains for Rodgers, especially considering he has historically struggled after promotions. Further, the Rockies likely will have him on a short leash this year. Still, Rodgers has a ton of upside, with potential above-average-to-plus hit and power tools in the middle infield in Coors Field.
Top 200 Prospects
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays. Following a huge April performance, Biggio slowed in May (.246/.388/.369), but still displayed superb plate discipline. The Blue Jays saw enough, promoting him in late May. Biggio’s bat receives mixed opinions, but he has plus bat speed and a leveraged swing to tap into his above-average raw power. His uppercut swing does lead to a lot of fly balls, which will limit his batting average, but he is an on-base machine.
Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals. In 14 less games in the majors than Triple-A, Lopez has 7 more strikeouts and the same number of swinging strikes. Hitting in the majors is hard, guys. Thus far, Lopez has had his bat knocked out of his hands (.222/.282/.292) with little hard contact (16.7%). Hype about his debut got a little out of hand. As I warned last month, he has little power, which played up in Triple-A, and, profiles similarly to David Fletcher.
Shed Long, Seattle Mariners. Despite splitting time between second base, third base, and left field at Triple-A, Long has only played second base in the majors. Thus far, he has performed well, flashing power, speed, and patience. Unfortunately, Dee Gordon is on schedule to return to action next week. Should Long find regular playing time, he is a potential solid fantasy option, with average-to-above hit, power, and speed tools.
Luis Rengifo, Los Angeles Angels. Since his promotion in April, Rengifo has been up and down between Triple-A and the majors. When up, he has served as the starting second baseman for the Angels, moving David Fletcher to third base. Since his most recent promotion, Rengifo has started to hit, going 10-for-35 in May (3-for-8 in June). However, he has below-average power and only average speed, limiting his upside.
Others of Note:
- Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins
- Josh VanMeter, Cincinnati Reds
Xavier Edwards, San Diego Padres. Speed is the name of his game, and he knows it. Edwards has little power, and he utilizes a slap-hitter approach, driving nearly everything the opposite way (45.3%), and creating a ton of contact with very little swing-and-miss (3.6% swinging strikes). This is an old-school leadoff hitter. While Edwards is finding success in Low-A (.378/.431/.441 in May), better defenses will challenge his style of play and drive down his batting average on balls in play (.398).
Asked #Padres Class A coaching staff about the success of no. 11 prospect Xavier Edwards.
Simply put, “He just seems to do everything right.”
Oh, yeah. He can motor too. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XvpjnhCIOA
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) May 30, 2019
Esteury Ruiz, San Diego Padres. Incredibly, Ruiz normally bats ninth for Lake Elsinore. Arguably, he possesses the most power and speed of anyone on the roster. This power/speed combo was on full display in May, as he launched 5 home runs and stole 9 bases (.295/.364/.551). However, Ruiz still is raw at the plate and in the field, often struggling with contact (29.4% strikeouts and 17.1% swinging strikes). As such, he likely will require a level-by-level maturation.
Joshua Rojas, Houston Astros. A former 26th round pick, Rojas has truly broke out this year. One of the top hitters in the Texas League (.322/.405/.561), he showcased power (24 extra base hits and 8 home runs) and speed (13 stolen bases). Further, Rojas is a strong and versatile defender, with playing time at second base, first base, third base, and even some outfield. In May, he upped his game, slashing .357/.422/.694 and receiving a well-earned promotion to Triple-A. It appears the Astros are grooming Rojas as the next Marwin Gonzalez.
Others of Note:
- Nick Solak, Tampa Bay Rays (.289/.366/.515)
- Tucupita Marcano, San Diego Padres (.341/.385/.435)
- Kevin Kramer, Pittsburgh Pirates (.310/.398/.560)
- Rodolfo Castro, Pittsburgh Pirates (.267/.308/.524)
- Travis Blankenhorn, Minnesota Twins (.308/.339/.525)
- Kody Clemens, Detroit Tigers (.275/.361/.529)
- Domingo Leyba, Arizona Diamondbacks (.300/.358/.600)
- Esteban Quiroz, San Diego Padres (.275/.356/.563)
- Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals (.294/.351/.553)
- Enmanuel Valdez, Houston Astros (.301/.386/.493, promoted to High-A)
Jahmai Jones, Los Angeles Angels. It may be time to be seriously worried about Jones. He is the worst qualified hitter in the Southern League (42 wRC+). This month, he hit just .214/.265/.301 and he was 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts.
Others of Note:
- Samad Taylor, Toronto Blue Jays (.121/.192/.182)
- Nick Dunn, St. Louis Cardinals (.179/.203/.269)
- Oswaldo Cabrera, New York Yankees (.163/.187/.250)
Additional Second Base Prospect Notes
- Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox finally showed a glimpse of his fantasy promise with 2 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a sparkling 2-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
- Luis Santana, Houston Astros received an assignment to Double-A Corpus Christi despite no full season experience. The Astros did the same thing with Gilberto Celestino last year before reassigning him to the New York-Penn League. Expect a similar maneuver with Santana.
- Breyvic Valera, New York Yankees joined his new organization via waivers in mid-May and has since discovered his power stroke (.431/.525/.902 with 6 home runs!).
- Notable injuries: Vidal Brujan, Tampa Bay Rays (unknown); Tucupita Marcano, San Diego Padres (sprained left thumb); Omar Estevez, Los Angeles Dodgers (left leg)
Notable Third Base Prospect Performances
The Rising Third Base Prospect
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves. What a start to a major league career! In fact, his May was simply incredible, hitting .360/.458/1.020 with 10 home runs in Triple-A and .356/.397/.746 with 7 more home runs in his debut. So far in June, Riley already has two more home runs. A strong, 6’3” and 220 pounds, he generates double-plus raw power and tons of hard contact (57.1% in his debut). However, his ability to actually make contact remains questionable, including just 60.7% contact and 21.5% swinging strikes thus far. Further, Riley is a butcher in left field, where he has primarily played in the majors in favor of Josh Donaldson at third base. Regardless, his 30+ home run power will play anywhere even if his average regresses closer to .260-.270 long-term.
?Austin Riley Grand Slam ?
Exit velocity: 109.8 mph
Distance: 438 feet pic.twitter.com/AUy7s5PBXb
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 30, 2019
The Major League Third Base Prospect
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays. Even the most decorated prospects can struggle adjusting to the majors. After a surprisingly slow first 11 games (.146/.222/.171), however, Vlad Jr. has been as advertised. For the rest of May, he slashed .309/.377/.632 with 6 home runs. Impressively, he already has the hardest hit ball in the majors this year (118.9 mph)! Few players can boast double-plus hit and power tools. Count Vlad Jr. as one of them.
Ty France, San Diego Padres. With Fernando Tatis Jr. out for an extended period, France has received extended playing time at third base. While he has failed to translate his Triple-A success to the majors, he closed the month heating up over his final 12 games (.308/.357/.462). France has a legit bat, with potential average hit and game power tools. In addition, his defense has been surprisingly serviceable, but he lacks much range and likely is a future reserve.
Others of Note:
- Dawel Lugo, Detroit Tigers
Abraham Toro, Houston Astros. At nearly every stop in his career, Toro has posted a .200+ isolated slugging percentage and ∼13% walk rate. Now, he is doing it in the upper minors (.212 ISO and 13.7% walks). In May, he hit .340/.459/.570 with a spectacular 23-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While Toro lacks big power, he taps fully into his average-to-above raw power with a leveraged swing. Further, he has drawn plus grades for his future hit tool, while already demonstrating advanced plate discipline and a feel to hit.
Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians. A disciplined hitter, Jones has already walked 45 times (20.4%), including 27 walks (25.7%) this month. In fact, he had more walks than hits (23) in May. While a .444 on-base percentage is excellent, he may need to start looking to do damage with his plus raw power. On the year, he only has 11 extra base hits (4 home runs) and far too many ground balls (49.6%). Further, Jones has struck out 48 times (20.8%); yet he has just 58 swinging strikes (6.2%). This passive approach may work in the low minors, but more advanced pitching will take advantage. With a more balanced approached and leveraged swing, Jones has potential above-average hit and game power tools.
Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers. After returning from a minor injury in early May, Vargas was unstoppable. Over the next 18 games, he hit .419/.476/.486, and he opened June with his first home run. Vargas exhibits an advanced, all-fields approach and outstanding plate discipline. At times, his approach resembles that of a slap hitter, with tons of opposite field contact (42.7%) and little extra base pop. However, Vargas has a projectable 6’3″ frame and present average raw power. It just needs to begin to translate to games.
Others of Note:
- Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies (.303/.358/.495)
- Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox (.279/.359/.596, 8 home runs)
- Kean Wong, Tampa Bay Rays (.362/.404/.524)
- Drew Ellis, Arizona Diamondbacks (.314/.390/.500)
- Buddy Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks (.344/.404/.531)
- Andy Ibanez, Texas Rangers (.313/.405/.515)
Lucas Erceg, Milwaukee Brewers. A streaky hitter throughout his career, Erceg is currently in a slump (.171/.271/.259) after a hot start (.274/.387/.581). We are still waiting for the former 2016 second round pick to find consistency. If he does, he provides above-average raw power and a cannon for an arm.
Others of Note:
- Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers (47 strikeouts!)
- Josh Fuentes, Colorado Rockies (39 strikeouts)
- Dylan Busby, Pittsburgh Pirates (.163/.223/.279, 41 strikeouts)
Additional Third Base Prospect Notes
- Malcom Nunez, St. Louis Cardinals received an assignment to Low-A, and he is struggling thus far (.188/.246/.203).
- Notable injuries: Elehuris Montero, St. Louis Cardinals (wrist); Kelvin Gutierrez, Kansas City Royals (hip flexor strain)
Notable Shortstop Prospect Performances
The Rising Shortstop Prospect
Willi Castro, Detroit Tigers. The Tigers acquired Castro from the Indians in the Leonys Martin last trade deadline. Since then, he has been a force at the plate, hitting .324/.366/.562 last year after the trade. This year, he has continued hitting in Triple-A (.337/.411/.495, though with an unsustainable .428 BABIP). A switch-hitter, he excels from both sides of the plate, utilizing a line-drive stroke with some pop and above-average speed. Castro is on the 40-man roster and it is only a matter of time before he receives a promotion to the majors.
Willi Castro has been spectacular all season long for @MudHens, ranking tied for second in the International League with 61 hits and third with a .351 batting average.
— Detroit Tigers Player Development (@RoadtoDetroit) May 30, 2019
Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates. The former 2015 first round pick was thought to be a fast mover as an elite college hitter. Well, it appears he may finally be sticking, with a solid .341/.398/.471 performance through May. Despite these gaudy numbers, he is still an empty batting average performer. Among hitters with at least 80 balls in play, Newman has the 4th worst hard hit rate (18.8%). Further, he has attempted just 2 stolen bases (1-for-2) all year and his running splits show just average speed and poor acceleration. Without power or speed, he is better left on waivers outside of deeper (24+ team) formats.
Others of Note:
- Richie Martin, Baltimore Orioles
- Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Major League Shortstop Prospect
Cole Tucker, Pittsburgh Pirates. Last month, I expressed my doubts about Tucker’s power surge. Sure enough, he slashed just .152/.188/.227 with only 3 extra base hits in May. Of course, he is only 22 years old in his first taste of the majors so he must be given all kinds of slack. Positively, Tucker has shown well in the field, and he should receive plenty of opportunities for his bat to come around. Ultimately, he projects as an average hitter with 10-15 home runs and 15-20 stolen bases, all while playing excellent defense.
Others of Note:
- Thairo Estrada, New York Yankees
Luis Urias, San Diego Padres. What does Urias have to do to earn a promotion?! Already, he nearly has as many home runs (14) as he previously hit in his entire minor league career (17). This past month, he hit .351/.462/.608 with a 20-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In fact, Urias, not Yordan Alvarez, is the best hitter in the PCL (186 wRC+). In addition, he has impressed in field at shortstop, though his future likely is at second base. Meanwhile, Ian Kinsler has been terrible for the Padres. For what it is worth, I have been holding Urias for weeks in TGFBI, a 15-team, redraft league.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers. This year, Lux has proven his 2018 power breakout was no fluke. Now in Double-A, he has 11 home runs (25% HR/FB), including 8 in May (.324/.393/.598). In addition to the power, he utilizes the whole field with reasonable swing-and-miss. A potential five-category performer, Lux has potential above-average hit, power, and speed tools.
Others of Note:
- Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays (.327/.386/.439, 7 stolen bases)
- Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals (.281/.368/.625)
- Jorge Mateo, Oakland Athletics (.317/.346/.567)
- Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians (.347/.414/.531)
- Jeter Downs, Los Angeles Dodgers (.283/.355/.505)
- Brice Turang, Milwaukee Brewers (.320/.413/.417, 8 stolen bases)
- Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins (.317/.348/.508)
- Terrin Vavra, Colorado Rockies (.320/.373/.524)
- Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros (.359/.441/.576, 9 stolen bases)
- Nick Maton, Philadelphia Phillies (.349/.404/.453)
- Mason McCoy, Baltimore Orioles (.342/.402/.477, promoted to Double-A)
Jazz Chisholm, Arizona Diamondbacks. Nothing but consistent, Chisholm has struggled all year, including May (.180 AVG and 37 strikeouts). On the year, he has an abysmal .185 batting average on balls in play, partly due to his extreme fly ball approach (55.3%). At least, Chisholm is still hitting for big power (13 home runs and 22.8% HR/FB). His lofty strikeout totals (34.8%) are not irreparable (14.3% swinging strikes), and more a product of his patient approach (4.27 pitches/plate appearance).
Others of Note:
- Luis Garcia, Washington Nationals (.198/.236/.248)
- Kevin Smith, Toronto Blue Jays (.140/.227/.314)
- Anderson Tejeda, Texas Rangers (.191/.291/.309, 36 strikeouts)
- Geraldo Perdomo, Arizona Diamondbacks (.217/.333/.253)
- Edmundo Sosa, St. Louis Cardinals (.180/.207/.247)
- Joe Dunand, Miami Marlins (.181/.245/.223)
Additional Shortstop Prospect Notes
- Wander Javier, Minnesota Twins received an assignment to Low-A.
- Freudis Nova, Houston Astros received an assignment to Low-A. Over his first five games, he already has 2 home runs and he has split playing time between shortstop, third base, and second base.
- The Pirates activated Ji-Hwan Bae from the restricted list (30-game suspension for domestic violence).
- The Blue Jays assigned Ronny Brito, acquired in the Russell Martin trade, to High-A, skipping him past Low-A.
- Notable May injuries: Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs (fractured wrist); Jordan Groshans, Toronto Blue Jays (foot); Jose Devers, Miami Marlins (forearm strain); Chris Seise, Texas Rangers (labrum surgery, out for the year); Leonardo Rivas, Los Angeles Angels (unknown); C.J. Chatham, Boston Red Sox (unknown)