Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, 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 Outfield Prospect Performances
The Rising Outfield Prospect
DJ Stewart, Baltimore Orioles. Despite a strong debut last year (.250/.340/.550), Stewart had to wait until late May before receiving another shot in the majors. This promotion came after he completely blitzed the International League in May (.456/.512/.882). A patient, disciplined hitter, Stewart has not posted a walk rate lower than 11% since his debut (15.5% this year). Further, he has plus raw power and strong baserunning instincts, allowing him to consistently steal double-digit bases. Of course, the stout, 6’0″ and 230-pound prospect is far from fleet of foot, and any stolen bases are just icing on the cake. Ultimately, Stewart profiles as a solid, fringe fantasy outfielder, capable of a .250-.260 average, plenty of walks, 20+ home runs, and a handful of stolen bases.
— Norfolk Tides (@NorfolkTides) May 9, 2019
The Graduated Outfield Prospect
While none of the following prospects graduated in May, each will exceed rookie limits in early June.
Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox. After missing three weeks with a high right ankle sprain, Jimenez returned on May 20th. Since then, he has continued to struggle, hitting just .182/.234/.409 with 29.8% strikeouts in May. On the year, his strikeout-to-walk ratio (25.9% K%-BB%) is among the worst in the majors. While not fully unexpected, his swing-and-miss issues (15.8% swinging strikes) are obviously concerning. With that said, Jimenez is still flashing plus power (18.8% HR/FB and 43.8% hard hits) and an aptitude for all-fields contact (35/35/30). Just 22 years old, he has a bright future, and his massive, 80-grade raw power is uncommon.
Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds. A year late, Senzel has arrived in the majors, playing center field, not third base or second base. An above-to-plus runner, he has the speed for the position, but, understandably, remains a bit raw in the field. For fantasy, however, his defense only matters so much. At the plate, Senzel is a gap-to-gap, line-drive hitter with an exceptional feel to hit. In his brief debut, he already has utilized the whole field (24/40/36). In addition, he has flashed both power (.189 ISO and 13.3% HR/FB) and speed (5 stolen bases). All told, Senzel is a potential elite fantasy performer, capable of hitting .300+ with 20/20 ability.
Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates. It is difficult to discount Reynolds’ spectacular debut (.345/.402/.569 through May). Indeed, he is hitting the snot out of the ball (49.5% hard hits) to all fields (34/34/32). However, he has an elevated batting average on balls in play (.418) and more swing-and-miss than is typical for a high-average hitter (12.2% swinging strikes). While his average will regress, Reynolds still profiles as a .270-.280 hitter with 20+ home run pop.
Others of Note:
- Ryan Cordell, Chicago White Sox
- Austin Dean, Miami Marlins
- Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins
The Major League Outfield Prospect
Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres. With the Padres entering interleague play, Naylor received a call up, splitting time between right field and designated hitter. Surprisingly, he remains with the big league club after the stretch in AL parks. As Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe occupy the outfield corners, Naylor likely will operate as a pinch hitter for awhile. Slow as molasses and just 5’11”, he likely is a designated hitter long-term. Nevertheless, he has potential above-average hit and game power tools, with double-plus raw power. Naylor only needs to find a path to playing time.
Oscar Mercado, Cleveland Indians. The Indians finally called up Mercado to help shore up a poor outfield. Over 13 games in May, he flashed hitting ability, some power, and speed (.304/.385/.435). Still a bit raw, Mercado likely will struggle at times, but he is a plus runner with a solid, line-drive bat, double-digit home run pop, and manageable swing-and-miss.
Myles Straw, Houston Astros. A speedster, Straw is an old school slap hitter who drives most of his contact the opposite way (44.3%). With little to no power, he is only relevant in formats where stolen bases carry value (i.e., standard 5-by-5). However, Straw pairs elite speed with superb instincts, making him a threat to steal any time he gets on-base. This year, he has received playing time at shortstop for the first time. While he is currently filling in for George Springer in center field, he could stick as a utility player and pinch runner.
Others of Note:
- Harold Ramirez, Miami Marlins
- Braden Bishop, Seattle Mariners
- Tim Locastro, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Jonathan Davis, Toronto Blue Jays
The Good: Top 200 Prospect
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros. Over his first 18 games, Tucker hit just .121/.171/.258. Over his next 35 games (including his first 2 games in June), he returned to form, hitting .326/.406/.770 with 15 home runs and 10 in stolen bases (on 10 attempts). Of course, the hitting environments of the PCL are favorable. As such, his performance this year (.259/.333/.602) is only good for 119 wRC+. Further, Tucker has suffered increased swing-and-miss (15.5% swinging strikes) this year, casting some doubt regarding the state of his hit tool. Additionally, although he has regularly stolen 20+ bases in the minors, he has well below-average speed. Regardless, he is a potent, line drive hitter with easy plus power to all fields. As Tucker is on the 40-man roster, he, and not teammate Yordan Alvarez, likely will receive a promotion soon.
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros. In his last game of the month, Alvarez received three intentional walks! The next day, he received two more. In May alone, he received 8 intentional walks, and he leads the minors in intentional walks by 7 (11 total). Clearly, no one wants to face this red hot bat. Incredibly, Alvarez actually hit for a higher batting average and on-base percentage in May (.360/.452/.658) than in April. With little left to prove in the minors, he is ready for a promotion. Given the injuries to Carlos Correa and George Springer, and the underperformance of Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White, the time is ripe for his arrival. However, the Astros have a crowded active and 40-man roster. Thus, Alvarez likely will have to wait until later this summer for an opportunity.
.@RRExpress’s Yordan Alvarez was intentionally walked.
Didn’t even touch his bat, just went straight to first. 😂 pic.twitter.com/i8EUoLijpd
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 3, 2019
Others of Note:
- Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox (.311/.360/.524, 8 stolen bases)
- Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners (.273/.350/.555, promoted to High-A)
- Trevor Larnach, Minnesota Twins (.371/.456/.619)
- Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers (.301/.373/.408, 11 stolen bases)
- Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins (.287/.380/.426, 16 stolen bases)
- Brandon Marsh, Los Angeles Angels (.347/.462/.467)
- Khalil Lee, Kansas City Royals (14 stolen bases)
- Adam Haseley, Philadelphia Phillies (.330/.402/.570, promoted to Triple-A, then the majors!)
- Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks (.337/.409/.592)
- Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals (.304/.393/.559)
- Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox (.388/.460/.561, promoted to Double-A)
The Good: Non-Top 200 Prospect
Jake Fraley, Seattle Mariners. A competitive balance pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Fraley had a solid college career for LSU, but hit for little power. In his full-season debut in 2017, he struggled in the Florida State League before suffering a knee injury, ending his season. The following winter, Fraley found wild success with a swing change in the Australian Baseball League (.361/.449/.680 with 13 home runs and 39 stolen bases). This success carried over into the 2018 season (.347/.415/.547). This offseason, the Mariners acquired him from the Rays in the Mike Zunino trade. Now in the upper minors, Fraley has continued to hit, including a huge May (.371/.440/.639). The tools match the production, as he has an average-to-above hit tool, average power, and above-average speed. He also has an awesome beard.
Daniel Johnson, Cleveland Indians. The Indians acquired Johnson from the Nationals for Yan Gomes this off-season. Last year, a broken hamate bone derailed much of his season. Now healthy, Johnson has taken off, hitting 8 home runs in May (.300 ISO) and earning a promotion to Triple-A. A power/speed specimen, he has huge upside, with double-plus speed and above-average raw power.
Others of Notes:
- Lolo Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates (.309/.409/.436, 11 stolen bases)
- Will Benson, Cleveland Indians (.270/.345/.530, 7 home runs, 9 stolen bases)
- Vince Fernandez, Colorado Rockies (.242/.321/.589, 8 home runs)
- Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies (.279/.313/.623, 10 home runs, 41 strikeouts)
- Yonathan Daza, Colorado Rockies (.352/.393/.524)
- Stuart Fairchild, Cincinnati Reds (.321/.407/.564)
- Simon Muzziotti, Philadelphia Phillies (.370/.397/.493)
- Forrest Wall, Toronto Blue Jays (.327/.409/.515)
- Oscar Gonzalez, Cleveland Indians (.349/.367/.528)
- Mike Gerber, San Francisco Giants (.360/.447/.719)
- Travis Demeritte, Atlanta Braves (.317/.385/.712, 10 home runs)
- Brian Mundell, Colorado Rockies (.375/.455/.580)
- Michael Gigliotti, Kansas City Royals (.297/.375/.352, 11 stolen bases)
- Ian Miller, Seattle Mariners (.357/.394/.609, 14 stolen bases)
- Cody Thomas, Los Angeles Dodgers (.337/.402/.519)
- Canaan Smith, New York Yankees (.368/.446/.566)
- Miguel Aparicio, Texas Rangers (.317/.370/.573)
- Trey Harris, Atlanta Braves (.377/.446/.651)
- Niko Hulsizer, Los Angeles Dodgers (.330/.446/.720, 10 home runs)
- Ian Dawkins, Chicago White Sox (.419/.473/.564)
Seuly Matias, Kansas City Royals. Just when you thought it could not get any worse, Matias goes 7-for-76 with 48 strikeouts (54.5%) in May! Double-plus raw power is no good if you cannot make contact. Indeed, Matias is the minor league leaders in swinging strike rate (27.1%). At this point, his hit tool is in such disrepair that he should be waiver fodder in most formats.
Corey Ray, Milwaukee Brewers. Triple-A has been rough sledding for Ray. Absent a three-game stretch, Ray went 4-for-40 with 22 strikeouts in May. To add insult to injury, he returned to the injured list with persistent issues with his finger.
It was not a good month for Cuban outfield prospects . . .
Others of Note:
- Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds (.200/.352/.284, 8 stolen bases)
- Victor Victor Mesa, Miami Marlins (.220/.288/.260)
- Julio Pablo Martinez, Texas Rangers (.178/.221/.356, 34 strikeouts)
- Tirso Ornelas, San Diego Padres (.189/.274/.216)
- Lazaro Armenteros, Oakland Athletics (.198/.313/.385, 43 strikeouts)
- Parker Meadows, Detroit Tigers (.206/.316/.289)
- Rhett Wiseman, Washington Nationals (.141/.247/.231)
- Bren Spillane, Cincinnati Reds (.079/.239/.263, 22 strikeouts in 38 at-bats, demoted)
Additional Outfield Prospect Notes
- Despite strong performances, Drew Waters, Atlanta Braves (39 strikeouts) and Moises Gomez (43 strikeouts) have some concerning swing-and-miss issues.
- Austin Beck, Oakland Athletics is beginning to tap into his raw power (.258 ISO) at the expense of swing-and-miss (36 strikeouts).
- The Reds suspended Jose Siri (11 stolen bases in May) for an unknown number of games due to an incident with a home plate umpire.
- Griffin Conine, Toronto Blue Jays returned from suspension with a bang, going 8-for-13 with 3 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs in his first 3 games.
- J.J. Matijevic, Houston Astros received a 50-game suspension.
- The Red Sox demoted recently acquired Marcus Wilson to High-A.
Assignments, Promotions & Injuries
- Notable May assignments: Jhon Torres, St. Louis Cardinals (Low-A); Brennen Davis, Chicago Cubs (Low-A); Kevin Alcantara, New York Yankees (DSL); Misael Urbina, Minnesota Twins (DSL); Alvin Guzman, Arizona Diamondbacks (DSL); Nico Decolati, Colorado Rockies (Low-A); Eduarqui Fernandez, Milwaukee Brewers (DSL); Alexander Ramirez, Los Angeles Angels (DSL); Freddy Valdez, New York Mets (DSL)
- Notable May promotions: Carlos Rincon, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A to Double-A); Luis Liberato, Seattle Mariners (High-A to Triple-A)
- Notable May returns from injury: Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels; Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants; Yusniel Diaz, Baltimore Orioles; Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles; Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins; Jeren Kendall, Los Angeles Dodgers; Randy Arozarena, St. Louis Cardinals
- Notable May injuries: Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins (unknown, but he got engaged!); Brandon Marsh, Los Angeles Angels (leg); Akil Baddoo, Minnesota Twins (elbow surgery, out for the year); Cole Roederer, Chicago Cubs (ankle); Jake McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks (unkown); Micker Adolfo, Chicago White Sox (arthoscopic surgery, out for the year); Dylan Cozens, Philadelphia Phillies (foot surgery, out for the year); Justin Williams, St. Louis Cardinals (hand); Ronnie Dawson, Houston Astros (unknown); Jorge Ona, San Diego Padres (unknown); Grant Little, San Diego Padres (oblique); Luis Liberato, Seattle Mariners (unknown)