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Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, July 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 June, TDG reviewed May 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!

A Note on Minor League Context

Before delving into prospect performances, I want to emphasis taking performances within league context. For example, the Pacific Coast League has 12 of 16 teams with an OPS of .800+ and a league average slash of .277/.354/.479! Indeed, Las Vegas is hitting .304/.376/.536 as a team! Dustin Fowler (.279/.334/.507, 98 wRC+) and Sam Hilliard (.251/.316/.537, 96 wRC+) are performing below league average. The difference between the Pacific Coast League and the Florida State League in league OPS is 167 points. The following table shows league OPS through August 1st.

LevelLeagueOPS
Triple-APacific Coast (PCL)0.833
Triple-AInternational (INT)0.794
Double-AEastern (EAS)0.681
Double-ATexas (TEX)0.715
Double-ASouthern (SOU)0.678
High-AFlorida State (FSL)0.666
High-ACarolina (CAR)0.684
High-ACalifornia (CAL)0.713
Low-ASouth Atlantic (SAL)0.681
Low-AMidwest (MID)0.683
Class A Short SeasonNew York-Penn (NYP)0.655
Class A Short SeasonNorthwest (NWL)0.691
Rookie AdvancedPioneer (PIO)0.768
Rookie AdvancedAppalachian (APP)0.714
RookieGulf Coast (GCL)0.672
RookieArizona (AZL)0.738
Rookie ForeignDominican Summer (DSL)0.697

In addition, there are substantial differences within each league, as certain ballparks play as bandboxes. In June, Baseball America updated minor league park factors, noting the best run scoring parks are Reno (ARI/AAA), Alburquerque (COL/AAA), Las Vegas (OAK/AAA), Charlotte (CHW/AAA), and Lancaster (COL/A+). Other notable hitter-friendly parks include El Paso (SD/AAA), Salt Lake (LAA/AAA), Louisville (CIN/AAA), Oklahoma City (LAD/AAA), and Asheville (COL/A). Meanwhile, the worst run scoring parks are Jacksonville (MIA/AA), Wilmington (KC/A+), Lakeland (DET/A+), Mississippi (ATL/AA), and Jupiter (MIA/A+). Of course, the quality of hitting and pitching do influence these numbers, including league OPS (above). However, you must consider league context when evaluating player performance.

Notable Catcher Prospect Performances

The Rising Catcher Prospect

Francisco Alvarez, New York Mets. In a 2018 international class loaded with catchers, including Diego Cartaya, Alvarez has been the standout performer. The Mets doled out a $2.7 million signing bonus and aggressively assigned him to the GCL at just 17 years old. After just 7 games, in which Alvarez obliterated the GCL (12-for-26, 4 2B, 2 HR), he received a promotion to the APP. Now, he is the youngest hitter in the APP by 6 months (Leonardo Jimenez). Despite his youth, he is again finding little resistance (.355/.437/.500). Of course, teenage catching prospects carry a lot of risk and extensive lead time. However, Alvarez may be a special offensive talent, with potential above-to-plus hit ability and average power. As such, he is worth a stash in deeper (200+ prospects) formats.

The Major League Catcher Prospect

Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers officially (and finally) replaced Austin Barnes with Smith. In the PCL this year, he showcased impressive power (20 HR, .336 ISO), with a leverage swing to fully tap into his above-average raw power. Already, he has flashed substantial pop (5 HR, .488 ISO) and a patient approach (4.29 pitches/plate appearance) in the majors. Given his fly ball heavy approach, however, Smith likely will not hit for much batting average. Still, Smith profiles as a 45/50 hit, 50/55 power bat, give or take, and should provide ∼.260/.340 and 20+ home run power long-term.

Jake Rogers, Detroit Tigers. A stellar defensive catcher, Rogers is a far better real-life prospect than a fantasy prospect. In fact, he has thrown out 53.2% of base runners with a .994 fielding percentage this year. With that said, his defense will keep his bat in the lineup. Like Smith, Rogers has a leveraged approach designed to max out his average, pull-side raw power. His pull- and fly ball-heavy approach, however, will eat into his batting average, and his hit tool has never been highly-regarded. Nevertheless, Rogers should receive plenty of playing time, and the offensive bar at catcher is extremely low. With regular playing time, he is a potential ∼.235/.320 and 15+ home run power hitter.

Others of Note:

  • Andrew Knizner, St. Louis Cardinals (backing up Matt Wieters)
  • Meibrys Viloria, Kansas City Royals
  • Reese McGuire, Toronto Blue Jays

The Good Catcher Prospect

Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks. A rare catcher with speed, Varsho already has 17 stolen bases (on 20 attempts), including 6 stolen bases this month. Meanwhile, he has a potential above-average hit tool with average raw power. Notably, he demonstrates superb plate discipline (46-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio), all-fields contact, and nominal swing-and-miss (12.8% strikeouts and 7.6% swinging strikes). With hitting ability, power, and speed, Varsho is a potential five-category fantasy performer at catcher. Whether he sticks at catcher is an open question given his weak arm (17.1% CS). Regardless, his bat should play, even if forced to left field.

Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics. In his first 4 games since returning to Triple-A, Murphy has gone 8-for-15 with 6 home runs! Unfortunately, he re-injured the same knee in which he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in May. It is unclear how long this new injury will sideline Murphy. When healthy, he is a potential average-to-above hitter with above-average raw power and strong defense behind the plate. However, he has missed significant time for two straight years (broken hamate bone last year). With Josh Phegley scuttling (and injured as well), Murphy likely arrives in the majors as soon as he can prove healthy for an extended period.

Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners. Over his last 24 games in the CAL, Raleigh hit .345/.426/.885 with 15 home runs! Following this epic run, the Mariners promoted him to Double-A, where he has struggled thus far (.182/.294/.205). A third round pick in the 2018 draft, Raleigh is a switch-hitting slugger with above-average raw power, strong plate discipline, and a leveraged swing (51.3% FB). In addition, he is a much improved defender since turning pro. Often overlooked, Raleigh is a rising prospect who may break into the top 200 with a strong showing in Double-A.

Others of Note:

  • Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants (CAL: .289/.330/.526, 6 HR)
  • Luis Campusano, San Diego Padres (CAL: .326/.375/.478)
  • Ronaldo Hernandez, Tampa Bay Rays (FSL: .321/.360/.469)
  • Sam Huff, Texas Rangers (CAR: .305/.387/.500)
  • Ivan Herrera, St. Louis Cardinals (MID/FSL: .304/.394/.456)
  • Gabriel Moreno, Toronto Blue Jays (MID: .330/.380/.567)
  • Austin Allen, San Diego Padres (PCL: .313/.348/.625)
  • Miguel Amaya, Chicago Cubs (CAR: .311/.389/.492)
  • Alex Jackson, Atlanta Braves (INT: .306/.393/.708, 9 HR)
  • Yermin Mercedes, Chicago White Sox (INT: .259/.315/.580, 8 HR)
  • Logan O’Hoppe, Philadelphia Phillies (NYP: .343/.373/.743)
  • Kole Cottam, Boston Red Sox (SAL: .322/.459/.525)
  • David Garcia, Texas Rangers (NWL: .286/.368/.506)
  • Juan Aparicio, Philadelphia Phillies (NYP/SAL: .371/.450/.543)
  • Patrick Mazeika, New York Mets (EAS: .288/.341/.548)
  • Jakson Reetz, Washington Nationals (CAR: .333/.440/.571)
  • Taylor Gushue, Washington Nationals (PCL: .321/.368/.623)
  • Alexander Guerra, Chicago Cubs (AZL/NWL: .338/.425/.824, 8 HR)

The Bad Catcher Prospect

Shea Langeliers, Atlanta Braves. The ninth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Langeliers is a well-regarded fielder with a big arm. His offense, however, is well behind his defense. Thus far, he has thrown out 44% of opposing base runners, but has hit just .224/.290/.345 through July.

Others of Note:

  • MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals (CAR: .155/.265/.310, 36 K)
  • Bo Naylor, Cleveland Indians (MID: .205/.283/.364)
  • Eric Haase, Cleveland Indians (INT: .135/.200/.351, 33 K)

Additional Catcher Prospect Notes

  • Anthony Seigler, New York Yankees struggled in Low-A this month (.098/.193/.118) before suffering a season-ending injury.
  • Notable July injuries: Jonah Heim, Oakland Athletics (hamstring); Rodolfo Duran, Philadelphia Phillies (knee)
  • Notable July promotions: Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles (GCL to NYP); Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (TEX to PCL); Connor Wong, Los Angeles Dodgers (CAR to TEX); Ryan Jeffers, Minnesota Twins (FSL to SOU); Rafael Marchan, Philadelphia Phillies (SAL to FSL)

Notable First Base Prospect Performances

The Rising First Base Prospect

Mason Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates. A seventeenth round pick in the 2017 draft, Martin had a massive debut in the GCL (.307/.457/.630, 11 HR, 19.3% BB), earning MVP honors. Last year, he received an aggressive assignment to the SAL and collapsed (.200/.302/.333, 35.8% K), forcing a demotion to the APP. Returning to the SAL this year, Martin rebounded in a big way, launching 23 home runs (.262/.361/.575). Most impressively, he has continued hitting for power in the pitcher-friendly FSL (.246/.380/.569, 5 HR). Despite his power show, Martin suffers a ton of swing-and-miss (28.8% K, 16.2% SwStr) and lacks ideal size for first base (6’0″). Ultimately, he profiles as a three-true-outcomes slugger (14% walks). Such profiles at first base, however, often stall in the upper minors.

The Major League First Base Prospect

Nate Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays. Technically, the Rays demoted Lowe to the INT on August 1st after the acquisition of Jesus Aguilar. Obviously, this is an unfortunate outcome, though likely only temporary. During the last month, Lowe flashed his huge offensive upside (.313/.397/.625, 5 HR). Dynasty owners need to remain patient with the slugger (I know it has been trying!). Long-term, Lowe has potential plus hit and power tools.

Others of Note:

The Good First Base Prospect

Seth Beer, Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks acquired Beer from the Astros as part of the package for Zack Greinke. This trade opens a much clearer path to long-term playing time for Beer. A limited defender, he had no future on the Astros with Yordan Alvarez in the same role. While Beer is a defensive liability, he really can hit, and fewer prospects are hotter at the moment, hitting .337/.462/.663 with 9 HR in July.

Roberto Ramos, Colorado Rockies. Over his last 48 games, Ramos has been unstoppable, hitting .373/.447/.673 with 11 home runs. While he is certainly enjoying the favorable PCL, he is nonetheless impressive, with all-fields, plus raw power (334.1 FB distance). Limited to first base, however, Ramos is blocked by Daniel Murphy through 2020.

Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels. Another PCL beneficiary, Walsh blasted 13 home runs in July (and 3 more to start August), leading to a return to the majors on August 4th. A two-way player, he likely is a role player long-term, but he has above-average raw power and a patient approach.

Others of Note:

  • Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox (AZL/SAL/CAR: .302/.424/.521)
  • Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (INT: .333/.348/.546, 29/3 K/BB)
  • Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks (SOU: .341/.394/.604, 6/10 K/BB)
  • Gavin Sheets, Chicago White Sox (SOU: .315/.385/.511)
  • Curtis Terry, Texas Rangers (CAR: .370/.402/.600)
  • Heriberto Hernandez, Texas Rangers (AZL: .379/.491/.632)
  • Bryce Ball, Atlanta Braves (APP: .302/.386/.663, 8 HR)
  • Darick Hall, Philadelphia Phillies (EAS: .304/.448/.587)
  • Tyreque Reed, Texas Rangers (SAL: .300/.425/.578)

The Bad First Base Prospect

Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians. After tearing through the INT, prompting a call-up, Bradley struggled in his major league debut (40.8% K, 18.3% SwStr). Upon his return to the INT, he struck out 25 more times in just 51 plate appearances. While Bradley has big power, he continues to suffer, and likely will always suffer, substantial swing-and-miss. Further, the Indians just acquired Franmil Reyes, and now have several 1B/DH types competing with him in the short- and long-term.

Others of Note:

  • Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox (SAL: .183/.337/.317)
  • Grant Lavigne, Colorado Rockies (SAL: .210/.347/.247)

Additional First Base Prospect Notes

  • The Marlins acquired Lewin Diaz from the Twins in exchange for Sergio Romo, Chris Vallimont, and a PTBNL.
  • Drew Mendoza, Washington Nationals (2019 3rd) has moved to first base.
  • Notable July injuries: Evan White, Seattle Mariners (face); Dermis Garcia, New York Yankees (undisclosed)

Notable Second Base Prospect Performances

The Rising Second Base Prospect

Joshua Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks. Like Beer, Rojas was part of the Zack Greinke trade with the Astros and likely benefits from a clearer path to playing time. The Astros groomed him as a super utility player in the mold of Marwin Gonzalez. In fact, he has received playing time at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, and LF. While most believe his future role is as a bench piece, he has put up some loud numbers between TEX and PCL, including a particularly hot July (.337/.432/.621, 7 HR, 10 SB). Rojas exhibits excellent plate discipline (64-to-52 strikeout-to-walk ratio), little swing-and-miss (14.1% strikeouts and 7.2% swinging strikes), and average-to-above raw power (311.2 FB distance). With regular playing time, he could surprise with .270/15/15 upside.

The Graduated Second Base Prospect

Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers. Since the All-Star break, Hiura has been one of the best hitters in the majors, knocking 16 extra-base hits in just 18 games (.409/.480/.803). Further, his penchant to run has lead to 7 stolen bases. Given his below-average speed, however, he is unlikely to be a long-term threat on the bases. Meanwhile, Hiura has suffered a lot of swing-and-miss (31.2% strikeouts and 18.2% swinging strikes), and an inflated .415 BABIP has buoyed his performance. Of course, he regularly makes hard, all-fields contact, so he should continue to rake up high BABIP, just not this high. All told, Hiura likely will experience regression, especially in stolen bases, but he is a special hitter with potential plus hit and power tools.

Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays. Although Biggio slowed in July (.193/.337/.301), he has still impressed in his rookie year. Unlike Hiura, Biggio has shown above-average speed, despite scouting reports to the contrary, and strong base running instincts. As such, it is reasonable to expect double-digit stolen bases year-to-year. Additionally, Biggio has delivered his promised patient approach, with 17.4% walks and 4.46 pitches/plate appearance, and some pop (8 HR). Obviously, he is much more valuable in on-base percentage formats, but, as a three-true-outcomes second baseman with speed, he should carry fantasy value in all formats.

Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins. Nothing has changed since last month for Arraez. Long-term, he is a plus hitter without power or speed. An empty .300 batting average only has so much fantasy value, even at second base.

The Major League Second Base Prospect

Luis Urias, San Diego Padres. It took a long wait while Urias torched the PCL (.315/.398/.600), but he finally returned to the majors in mid-July. After a hit in his first game back, though, he went 0-for-20 over the next 7 games (7 walks, at least). Urias has a potential plus or better hit tool, and more power (and even speed) than Luis Arraez. How much game power he can squeeze from his nominal raw power remains to be seen. With the state of major league power, and given his performance in the PCL, Urias could flirt with 20 home runs over a full season.

Josh VanMeter, Cincinnati Reds. Technically, VanMeter has exceeded rookie limits due to his time on the active roster. A rising prospect in April, he has bounced between the minors and majors ever since. VanMeter has the offensive tools to make an impact, with average hitting ability, power, and speed. The deadline deals of Yasiel Puig and Scooter Gennett presumably open more playing time for him; however, the Reds appear content to employ him as a platoon option at second base and left field. Given his poor defense, VanMeter will really need to hit to work his way into a regular role.

Courtesy of Keaton DeRocher

The Good Second Base Prospect

Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox. At the end of July, the White Sox promoted Madrigal to the INT. Prior to his promotion, he hit .341/.400/.451 with 14 stolen bases and just 5 strikeouts (2.8% strikeouts and 2.2% swinging strikes) in the SOU. Madrigal has little raw power, and likely never generates much exit velocity, but he can really hit. This lack of power limits his fantasy upside, however, he is a low-risk asset with a high floor and proximity. With that said, Madrigal is not without upside, profiling similar to Luis Arraez and David Fletcher, but with plus speed.

Ezequiel Duran, New York Yankees. A little known international signing in 2017 ($10K), Duran impressed in a brief, 15-game run in the DSL after his signing (.393/.415/.754) and during spring training. Consequently, the Yankees aggressively assigned him to the APP last year, where he badly struggled (.201/.251/.311). Luckily, all is forgotten! In the pitcher-friendly NYP, Duran has been one of the top hitters (159 wRC+) and even better this past month (.333/.392/.630, 7 HR). Duran possesses above-to-plus raw power and a developing approach at the plate.

Aaron Bracho, Cleveland Indians (AZL: .373/.464/.776) and Jeremiah Jackson, Los Angeles Angels (PIO: .267/.304/.600, 10 HR, 40 K) were detailed in Short Season Breakout Prospects.

Others of Note:

  • Vidal Brujan, Tampa Bay Rays (SOU: .289/.340/.423, 15 SB)
  • Xavier Edwards, San Diego Padres (MID/CAR: .345/.390/.400, 8 SB)
  • Isan Diaz, Miami Marlins (PCL: .317/.398/.610, 7 HR)
  • Tyler Callihan, Cincinnati Reds (APP: .289/.319/.533)
  • Miguel Hiraldo, Toronto Blue Jays (APP: .316/.368/.490)
  • Andy Young, Arizona Diamondbacks (PCL: .242/.307/.571, 9 HR)
  • Eddy Diaz, Colorado Rockies (PIO: .351/.377/.419, 8 SB)
  • Samad Taylor, Toronto Blue Jays (FSL: .286/.387/.508, 9 SB)
  • Danny Mendick, Chicago White Sox (INT: .308/.394/.527)

The Bad Second Base Prospect

Esteury Ruiz, San Diego Padres. Ruiz has tantalizing fantasy potential as a future 20/20 second baseman. However, his hit tool has yet to develop as many anticipate, limiting his ability to tap into his power, and he struggles with swing-and-miss (26.6% strikeouts and 15% swinging strikes). Despite playing in the hitter-friendly CAL, Ruiz has managed a paltry .118 ISO, and most of his power output came during a three-week stretch in May. In fact, he has hit just .216/.289/.295 since May 23rd.

Additional Second Base Prospect Notes

  • The Rangers acquired Nick Solak from the Rays for Peter Fairbanks.
  • Yunior Severino, Minnesota Twins began a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League in late July.
  • Notable July injuries: Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (torn labrum, out for the season); Shed Long, Seattle Mariners (fractured finger); Travis Blankenhorn, Minnesota Twins (undisclosed)

Notable Third Base Prospect Performances

The Rising Third Base Prospect

Luis Toribio, San Francisco Giants. The Giants signed Toribio for $300,000 from the 2017 international class. Last year, he impressed in the DSL, finishing behind only Malcom Nunez and Heriberto Hernandez in home runs (10) and hitting .270/.423/.479 with 18.6% walks (160 wRC+). In his stateside debut this year, Toribio has actually improved upon his performance in the DSL (.322/.451/.504, 18.8% BB). Despite his youth (18), he shows remarkable plate discipline and feel to hit. Far heavier than his listed weight (165 pounds), he already is physically mature, with average-to-above raw power (though, just 270.4 FB distance). However, Toribio is a mediocre athlete and raw defender, and it will take work to keep his body in check.

The Major League Third Base Prospect

Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels. A first round pick in the 2016 draft, Thaiss made his major league debut this month after a strong June in the PCL (.308/.442/.606, 8 HR). In college, he was a catcher, but transitioned to first base immediately in professional ball. For his entire career, Thaiss played first base until this year. At the hot corner, he is understandably a well below-average defender and still quite raw. Nevertheless, he has received regular playing time this past month, mostly at third base. With his opportunity, Thaiss has hit for surprising power (.244/.306/.600, 5 HR). This power surge is unlikely to continue, but he has potential average hitting ability and raw power (.260/15+).

Others of Note:

  • Michael Brosseau, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals (graduated)

The Good Third Base Prospect

Ty France, San Diego Padres. The hitting environments in the PCL make mediocre hitters into mashers, but France is on a whole different level. Through July, he has hit .380/.464/.760 with 24 home runs (and he has gone 11-for-21 with 2 home runs since!), and this does not include his home run in the PCL All-Star game (below). His performance has been nearly faultless, as he has hit line drives (33.2%) and home runs (32.5% HR/FB) with reasonable swing-and-miss (15.2% K, 10.1% SwStr). Unfortunately, France struggled in his brief run in the majors (.235/.290/.357). With Manny Machado, Luis Urias, and Eric Hosmer occupying all three positions in which he has experience, it is unclear when he will receive another meaningful opportunity.

Abraham Toro, Houston Astros. A well-regarded switch-hitter, Toro is breaking out this year (.306/.393/.513) with far better luck on balls in play (.346 BABIP) and a jump in hard contact (25.2% LD). At the plate, he exhibits advanced plate discipline and reasonable swing-and-miss (17.7% K, 10.2% SwStr). The Astros promoted Toro to the PCL at the beginning of August, where he could post some huge numbers. Overall, he likely profiles as a bat-first, utility infielder (received playing time at 3B, 2B, and 1B) with average-to-above hitting ability and raw power.

Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers. In late June, the Dodgers promoted Rios to the majors for 12 days, mostly serving as a bench bat. This promotion came after he finally heated up in the PCL, hitting .321/.387/.679 with 8 home runs in June. Since his demotion, Rios has continued his torrid pace, launching 9 more home runs in July (.314/.425/.788). While he has massive, double-plus raw power, he struggles with swing-and-miss, even when he is producing (30.6% K in June/July). Ultimately, Rios is a one-trick pony and defensive liability.

Others of Note:

  • Sheldon Neuse, Oakland Athletics (PCL: .345/.373/.566)
  • Aaron Schunk, Colorado Rockies (NWL: .358/.433/.566)
  • Alexander Mojica, Pittsburgh Pirates (DSL: .368/.479/.539)
  • Josh Fuentes, Colorado Rockies (PCL: .270/.299/.600, 9 HR)
  • Cristian Santana, Los Angeles Dodgers (TEX: .351/.353/.509)
  • Jomar Reyes, Baltimore Orioles (CAR: .379/.404/.558)
  • Adrian Rondon, Los Angeles Angels (PIO/MID: .354/.373/.556)
  • Christian Koss, Colorado Rockies (PIO: .374/.482/.725)

The Bad Third Base Prospect

Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds. The fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft, India has fallen victim to the pitcher-friendly FSL, muting his statistical performance (.256/.346/.410, 125 wRC+). However, he had a powerless July in both the FSL and the SOU following a mid-month promotion (.228/.360/.266, .038 ISO). Further, his average fly ball distance has fallen pretty steadily since early this year (below).

Jonathan India Estimated Fly Ball Distance

Others of Note:

  • Nick Quintana, Detroit Tigers (MID: .155/.226/.216, 36 K)

Additional Third Base Prospect Notes

  • Elehuris Montero, St. Louis Cardinals is back in action after missing nearly two months due to a wrist injury.
  • The Mariners acquired Jose Caballero from the Diamondbacks for Mike Leake. Caballero is out for the season with hand surgery.
  • Notable July promotions: Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians (CAR to EAS); Sherten Apostel, Texas Rangers (SAL to CAR); Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox (EAS to INT)
  • Notable July injuries: Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies (undisclosed)

Notable Shortstop Prospect Performances

The Rising Shortstop Prospect

Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers. It is difficult to rise much further than the 12th overall fantasy prospect in July. However, Lux certainly has risen, behind a ridiculous performance in the PCL (.457/.537/.876 through July). Indeed, even the incredible exploits of Ty France (193 wRC+), Trent Grisham (193 wRC+), and Kevin Cron (188 wRC+) pale in comparison to Lux (229 wRC+). Overall, he provides nearly everything you look for in a fantasy prospect, with potential above-to-plus hitting ability, above-average raw power and speed, solid defense, and proximity. The only knock against Lux is his likely move to second base. However, such a move is welcome if it expedites his arrival in the majors. Since the Dodgers have a full roster, he may have to play the waiting game (see Kyle Tucker), but the wait will be worth it.

The Major League Shortstop Prospect

Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays. The third piece of the Blue Jays’ future star-studded infield, Bichette received a promotion to the majors in late July. In his first 8 games, extending into August, he already has 3 home runs (.417/.462/.833), but also 4 errors. At the plate, Bichette makes hard contact to all fields with plus raw power. In addition, he has average-to-above speed and strong base running instincts, which should translate to double-digit or better stolen bases. In the field, however, he remains an average-to-below defender at shortstop, but he should receive a long leash.

Others of Note:

  • Myles Straw, Houston Astros

The Good Shortstop Prospect

Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates. In late June, Cruz returned to the FSL after missing nearly 2 months due to injury. Upon his return, he was one of the top hitters in the league (.330/.364/.596, 6 HR), prompting the Pirates to promote him to the EAS. Tall (6’6″) and powerful, Cruz is an odd fit at shortstop, but he has the athleticism, hands, and arm strength to potentially stick despite his unorthodox frame. Meanwhile, he has massive power potential with present plus or better raw power and more to come. Given his long levers, however, he understandably suffers plenty of swing-and-miss (26.2% K, 17.1% SwStr) and his approach is overaggressive.

Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros. A third round pick in the 2018 draft, Pena is more known for his plus defense, but his bat is starting to catch up. In March, Fangraphs noted he “added about 20 pounds of muscle over the offseason and is also a sleeper breakout candidate if it makes a meaningful impact on his contact quality.” It appears this breakout is occurring, hitting .343/.377/.556 since his promotion to the hitter-friendly CAL in late June. Pena suffered a pulled muscle in late July and he is on the injured list.

Pedro Martinez, Chicago Cubs. The Cubs signed Martinez for $300,000 late in the 2017/2018 international signing period. Despite his late signing, he managed to play and impress in a full season in the DSL (.310/.398/.406, 31 SB). This year, Martinez has dominated between the AZL and the NWL, hitting .402/.484/.524 with 10 stolen bases in July. A switch-hitter, he has a quick, line drive stroke with some pop and above-average speed.

Others of Note:

  • Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays (FSL: .316/.394/.430, 6/12 K/BB)
  • CJ Abrams, San Diego Padres (AZL: .367/.408/.667, 8 SB)
  • Andres Gimenez, New York Mets (EAS: .295/.337/.500)
  • Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians (CAR: .367/.396/.467)
  • Greg Jones, Tampa Bay Rays (NYP: .395/.441/.570, 11 SB)
  • Will Wilson, Los Angeles Angels (PIO: .324/.359/.505)
  • Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins (INT: .348/.402/.536)
  • Kevin Smith, Toronto Blue Jays (EAS: .333/.370/.708, 8 HR)
  • Matthew Lugo, Boston Red Sox (GCL: .338/.402/.473)
  • Yu Chang, Cleveland Indians (INT: .327/.417/.510)
  • Gabriel Arias, San Diego Padres (CAL: .368/.402/.547)
  • Liover Peguero, Arizona Diamondbacks (PIO: .333/.389/.469)
  • Jacob Amaya, Chicago Cubs (MID: .299/.421/.495)
  • Domingo Leyba, Arizona Diamondbacks (PCL: .309/.361/.564)

The Bad Shortstop Prospect

Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals. The second overall pick in the 2019 draft, Witt Jr. is off to a rough start in the AZL (.238/.287/.313). There are concerns regarding his hit tool, and he has struggled in the past against more advanced pitching. However, he has a special blend of power/speed, and, although he likely will require patience, he has immense upside.

Others of Note:

  • Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs (SOU: .232/.274/.364)
  • Noelvi Marte, Seattle Mariners (DSL: .216/.291/.343)
  • Brayan Rocchio, Cleveland Indians (NYP: .225/.279/.324)
  • Wander Javier, Minnesota Twins (MID: .163/.241/.327, 42 K)
  • Luis Garcia, Philadelphia Phillies (SAL: .173/.224/.235)
  • Jonathan Ornelas, Texas Rangers (SAL: .215/.253/.291)
  • Logan Davidson, Oakland Athletics (NYP: .193/.304/.284)

Additional Shortstop Prospect Notes

  • The Marlins acquired Jazz Chisholm from the Diamondbacks for Zac Gallen.
  • The Giants acquired Mauricio Dubon from the Brewers for Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black.
  • Notable July promotions: Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins (FSL to SOU); Brice Turang, Milwaukee Brewers (MID to CAR); Geraldo Perdomo, Arizona Diamondbacks (MID to CAL); Lucius Fox, Tampa Bay Rays (SOU to INT)
  • Notable July injuries: Brady McConnell, Kansas City Royals (hip flexor strain)

Jesse Roche's 2019 Prospect Series

DateArticle
11/5/18Top 600 Dynasty League Players, Fall Preview
11/12/182019 Top 40 Fantasy Catcher Prospects
11/19/182019 Top 30 Fantasy First Base Prospects
11/26/182019 Top 30 Fantasy Second Base Prospects
12/3/182019 Top 40 Fantasy Third Base Prospects
12/10/182019 Top 70 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects, Part 1
12/17/182019 Top 70 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects, Part 2
12/24/182019 Top 140 Fantasy Outfield Prospects, Part 1
12/31/182019 Top 140 Fantasy Outfield Prospects, Part 2
1/7/192019 Top 210 Fantasy Pitching Prospects, Part 1
1/16/192019 Top 210 Fantasy Pitching Prospects, Part 2
1/21/19Upon Further Review: Notable Grade Changes
1/28/192019 Top 500 Fantasy Prospects
2/11/192019 Top 100 Upside-Only Fantasy Prospects
2/20/192019 First Year Player Draft Rankings
3/11/192019 Impact Prospects
3/18/192019 Breakout Prospects
4/1/19Prospects Breaking Camp
4/3/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, March 2019
4/4/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, March 2019
4/5/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, March 2019
4/22/19Scouting Report: Grayson Rodriguez
4/29/19Scouting Reports: Delmarva & Greensboro
5/2/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, April 2019
5/4/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, April 2019
5/8/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, April 2019
5/10/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, May 2019
5/27/192019 MLB Draft: Top Fantasy Prospects
6/3/192019 MLB Draft Live Observations
6/5/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, May 2019
6/6/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, May 2019
6/7/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, May 2019
6/10/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, June 2019
6/17/192019 Short Season Assignments: DSL, PIO, NWL & NYP
6/24/192019 Short Season Assignments: AZL, GCL & APP
7/1/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, June 2019
7/3/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, June 2019
7/5/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, June 2019
7/8/192019/2020 First Year Player Draft, Rounds 1-2
7/12/19Top 600 Dynasty League Players, July 2019
7/15/192019/2020 First Year Player Draft, Rounds 3-4
7/22/192019/2020 First Year Player Draft, Rounds 5-6
7/29/19Short Season Breakout Prospects
8/7/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, July 2019
8/8/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, July 2019
8/9/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, July 2019
8/12/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, August 2019
8/19/19Scouting Report: Seth Corry
9/11/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, August 2019
9/13/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, August 2019
10/4/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, September 2019

Please feel free to post comments, questions, or your own observations!

Next, the Monthly Prospect Update will explore outfield prospects. Stay tuned!

Follow me on Twitter @jaroche6

The Author

Jesse Roche

Jesse Roche

Jesse is an attorney, currently residing in Greensboro. An avid fantasy baseball player, Jesse has experience in a diverse range of leagues, including head-to-head, rotisserie, points, and simulation. Jesse is a four-time website-wide champion at Benchwarmer Baseball and a repeat champion of a dynasty league with John Sickels at Minor League Ball. With a specific interest in baseball prospects, Jesse plans to provide in-depth analysis of up-and-coming stars accessible to all league sizes and types.

2 Comments

  1. August 7, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Great stuff as usual! Appreciate your hard work

    • August 7, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks! More to come over the next couple days.

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