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Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, August 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 August, TDG reviewed July 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!

Updated Minor League Context

Before delving into prospect performances, I want to emphasis taking performances within league context. For example, the Pacific Coast League has 11 of 16 teams with an OPS of .800+ and a league average slash of .277/.354/.477! Indeed, El Paso hit .302/.370/.537 as a team! Jorge Mateo (.289/.330/.504, 96 wRC+) performed below league average. The difference between the Pacific Coast League and the Florida State League in league OPS is 165 points. The following table shows league OPS through September 2nd.

LevelLeagueOPS
AAAPacific Coast (PCL)0.831
AAAInternational (INT)0.787
AAEastern (EAS)0.677
AATexas (TEX)0.710
AASouthern (SOU)0.683
A+Florida State (FSL)0.666
A+Carolina (CAR)0.682
A+California (CAL)0.719
ASouth Atlantic (SAL)0.677
AMidwest (MID)0.678
A-New York-Penn (NYP)0.65
A-Northwest (NWL)0.686
R+Pioneer (PIO)0.756
R+Appalachian (APP)0.715
RGulf Coast (GCL)0.679
RArizona (AZL)0.719
FRDominican Summer (DSL)0.695

Notable Catcher Prospect Performances

The Rising Catcher Prospect

Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks. Few prospects have hit as well as Varsho since the beginning of July (.352/.419/.636, 9 HR, 11 SB). Most impressively, he continues to limit swing-and-miss (13.9% K, 8.1% SwStr) while tapping more and more into his above-average raw power (below). Presumably, his hot hitting has forced the Diamondbacks to consider him in center field, where he has received 6 starts over his last 13 games, including the playoffs. Of course, Varsho is far from even an average defensive catcher, but solid enough to serve as a bat-first option. Should the Diamondbacks utilize him in center field long-term, his value would remain static (lost catcher eligibility, but more playing time). However, if Varsho retains eligibility at catcher with everyday at-bats split between catcher and the outfield, he would carry enormous fantasy value.

The Graduated Catcher Prospect

Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers. Since his return to the majors on July 27th, Smith has been the second best fantasy catcher (.299/.370/.724, 10 HR), trailing only a red hot J.T. Realmuto. While he has overperformed (.226 xBA, .468 xBA), he has legitimate power and makes plenty of hard contact (41.7%). Smith likely will struggle to hit for average long-term, however, due to his passive (4.30 pitches/plate appearance) and extreme fly ball heavy (54.1%) approach. Regardless, it is easy to envision him developing into a ∼.250/25+ performer at catcher. At just 25 years old next year, Smith arguably is a top 5 dynasty catcher.

Austin Allen, San Diego Padres. Although Allen has accrued just 54 at-bats, he has exhausted his rookie status with more than 45 days on the active roster. In the majors, he has served exclusively as a backup catcher. Meanwhile, Allen has obliterated the hitter-friendly PCL (.330/.379/.663, 21 HR) and was particularly unstoppable in August (.405/.423/.838, 7 HR). Few doubt his bat, with plus raw power and tons of hard contact to all fields. However, the jury is still out on his defensive ability and arm strength. If Allen finds his way into regular playing time, he should be owned in all formats.

Others of Note:

  • Meibrys Viloria, Kansas City Royals
  • Aramis Garcia, San Francisco Giants
  • Reese McGuire, Toronto Blue Jays

The Major League Catcher Prospect

Zack Collins, Chicago White Sox. The three-true-outcomes slugger is back in the majors after a torrid August in the INT (.338/.455/.763, 10 HR). Collins should receive semi-regular playing time down the stretch for the rebuilding White Sox. Hopefully, he can impress enough at and behind the plate to enter the offseason as the favorite to start at catcher next year. In on-base formats, Collins still possesses massive upside given his propensity to walk (16.9%) and easy double-plus raw power.

Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics. Knee injuries (torn meniscus) limited Murphy to just 41 games in the PCL this year. During that time, however, he excelled (.293/.384/.580). If not for swelling in his knee on July 31st, he likely would have arrived as soon as Josh Phegley hit the disabled list that same day. Now, Murphy has finally arrived, and he should receive plenty of playing time as the Athletics look to secure a wild card spot. As soon as next year, he likely will be the starting catcher for Oakland. Murphy has a promising bat and an excellent glove with a huge arm. Health-permitting, he is a potential .260/20+ performer.

Jake Rogers, Detroit Tigers. Some prospects transition effortlessly to the majors while others struggle mightily. Rogers falls squarely in the latter group. This past month, he went 6-for-70 with 36 strikeouts (45.6%). In fact, Rogers is just 2-for-48 over his last 15 games (including 3 in September). While he has some pop, he has always possessed a questionable hit tool. Rogers is more well-known for his defensive ability and huge arm, which he has already flashed (46.2% CS). For now, Rogers is best left for the waiver wire outside of two-catcher or deep (24+ team) formats.

Others of Note:

  • Andrew Knizner, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Alex Jackson, Atlanta Braves
  • Eric Haase, Cleveland Indians
  • Garrett Stubbs, Houston Astros
  • Dom Nunez, Colorado Rockies
  • Deivy Grullon, Philadelphia Phillies
  • Raudy Read, Washington Nationals
  • Tres Barrera, Washington Nationals
  • Jacob Nottingham, Milwaukee Brewers

The Good Catcher Prospect

Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds. A first round pick in the 2015 draft, Stephenson battled injuries over his first two seasons, effectively delaying the start of his career. Since then, he has been a steady performer, one level at a time. This year, he enjoyed his best season yet, hitting .285/.372/.410 (130 wRC+) in the SOU. Further, Stephenson finished the season on a tear, hitting .360/.437/.547 over his last 20 games. Initially known for his raw power potential, he has developed into a hit-over-power bat. Notably, Stephenson exhibits strong plate discipline and nominal swing-and-miss (16.5% K, 8.2% SwStr). However, he should get his chance to benefit from the major league ball next year. The Reds almost certainly will add Stephenson to the 40-man roster this offseason as he is Rule 5 draft eligible.

Connor Wong, Los Angeles Dodgers. Repeating the CAL, Wong struggled for much of the first half. While he hit for power, he flirted with the Mendoza Line and piled up strikeouts (30.8%) and swinging strikes (16.9%). In July, something clicked at the plate, leading to a promotion to the TEX. This past month, Wong laid waste to Double-A (.412/.463/.742, 9 HR). Swing-and-miss is simply part of his game and leads to legitimate concern regarding the efficacy of his hit tool. Nevertheless, Wong makes tons of hard contact (28% LD) and taps into most of his above-average raw power. With some experience at second and third base, he profiles as a bat-first utility piece long-term with sneaky fantasy potential if he runs into regular playing time.

Others of Note:

  • Luis Campusano, San Diego Padres (CAL: .322/.408/.522)
  • Riley Adams, Toronto Blue Jays (EAS: .280/.372/.560)
  • Yermin Mercedes, Chicago White Sox (INT: .293/.406/.587)
  • Rayner Santana, San Francisco Giants (DSL: .333/.493/.870, 8 HR)
  • Bryan Lavastida, Cleveland Indians (NYP: .413/.486/.554)

The Bad Catcher Prospect

Sam Huff, Texas Rangers. The big slugger enjoyed a breakout campaign between the SAL and CAR this year (.278/.335/.509, 28 HR). Whether it was exhaustion or his aggressive, whiff-heavy approach that caught up to Huff, he struggled over the last two weeks (.154/.214/.154, 42.9% K). During that time, he fell victim to the dreaded platinum sombrero (0-for-5, 5 K). On the year, he had a poor 154-to-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio (29.7% K, 18.9% SwStr). Although Huff possesses double-plus raw power, his hit tool is highly questionable.

MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals. Melendez’s disastrous season is nearly at an end. August was actually his worst month of the year (.143/.228/.257). Melendez finishes the season with a higher strikeout total (165, 39.4%) than batting average (.163). Still, he is a potential special defensive player with a cannon for an arm (60% CS!) and substantial raw power potential. It is too early to give up on Melendez in two-catcher formats or deep leagues.

Additional Catcher Prospect Notes

  • Notable AFL participants: Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants; Luis Campusano, San Diego Padres; Ronaldo Hernandez, Tampa Bay Rays; Ivan Herrera, St. Louis Cardinals; Miguel Amaya, Chicago Cubs; Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds; Payton Henry, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Notable August promotions: Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles (NYP to SAL); Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants (CAL to EAS); Ricardo Genoves, San Francisco Giants (NWL to SAL); Kole Cottam (SAL to CAR)
  • Notable August injuries: Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (broken finger)

Notable First Base Prospect Performances

The Rising First Base Prospect

Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks. The seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft, Smith has struggled to find a balance between his disciplined, high-contact approach and tapping into his above-average raw power. It appears he may have found the sweet spot! Since July, Smith has steadily increased his estimated fly ball distance (below). Meanwhile, he has continued to exercise elite plate discipline (19/25 K/BB). All told, he effectively broke out in the SOU over the last two months (.350/.419/.572). Next year, Smith presumably moves to the PCL, where he could put up some huge numbers. Long-term, he is looking more and more like the plus hitter with 20+ home run power many projected him to become.

The Major League First Base Prospect

Nate Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays. Although Lowe outperformed Ji-Man Choi in July, the Rays demoted him to Triple-A on August 1st after acquiring Jesus Aguilar. Both Choi and Aguilar are out of options, and the Rays decided against designating Choi for assignment. In September, the issue of options no longer matters. As such, Lowe is back in the majors and should receive semi-regular playing time down the stretch. Next year, he likely will be the starting first baseman for the Rays. Lowe is a top 15 fantasy prospect with potential above-to-plus hitting ability and game power.

Kevin Cron, Arizona Diamondbacks. In all competitions this year, Cron has amassed 44 home runs, including a dominant performance in the PCL (.331/.449/.777, 38 HR). The large, 6’5″ and 250-pound slugger possesses similarly massive double-plus raw power. However, Cron is more prone to swing-and-miss than his reasonable 77-to-61 strikeout-to-walk rate in the PCL indicates. Further, he is a defensive liability, even at first base, and fits best at designated hitter. With that said, Cron has significant, .240/30+ upside should he receive regular playing time.

Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels. Another PCL slugger, Walsh has been incredible over the past two months (.341/.427/.799, 23 HR in 44 G). Despite PCL statistical noise, he has plus raw power and a patient approach. However, Walsh is a well below-average runner with limited defensive ability, likely restricting his use to first base or designated hitter. A two-way player, his future likely is as a left-handed platoon bat or bench bat/reliever.

The Good First Base Prospect

Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles. A model of consistency this year, Mountcastle hit .283+ and slugged .508+ in each month this year (.283/.363/.556 in August). Notably, he walked more times in August (10) than in the prior three months combined (9). Plate discipline remains an issue for Mountcastle (130/24 K/BB). In addition, his aggressive, swing-happy approach leads to plenty of swinging strikes (15.7%). Nevertheless, he makes consistent, hard contact (29% LD) to all fields while tapping more into his plus raw power (below). In fact, he has a similar offensive and defensive profile to Nick Castellanos (imo). Although the Orioles did not promote Mountcastle when rosters expanded in September, he is Rule 5 eligible this offseason and likely debuts in mid-April next year.

Tyler Nevin, Colorado Rockies. Last year, Nevin finished the season strong, hitting .359/.423/.544 over his final 63 games and .426/.535/.593 in the Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately, his second half success did not carry over to this year in the difficult EAS until August. Once again, he caught fire late in the year, launching 8 home runs this past month (.291/.363/.609). Meanwhile, Nevin displayed strong plate discipline with reasonable swing-and-miss on the year (16.7% K, 10.2% SwStr). Ultimately, Nevin finished as a well above-average performer in the EAS (.251/.345/.399, 122 wRC+) despite a slow start. Potential for above-average hitting ability and raw power remains within reach.

Others of Note:

  • Evan White, Seattle Mariners (TEX: .303/.376/.513)
  • Roberto Ramos, Colorado Rockies (PCL: .291/.402/.545, 8 HR)
  • Luken Baker, St. Louis Cardinals (FSL: .346/.413/.654)
  • Bryce Ball, Atlanta Braves (APP/SAL: .347/.393/.545, promoted to SAL)
  • Jake Adams, Houston Astros (TEX: .275/.320/.560, 7 HR, promoted to TEX)
  • Robert Perez, Seattle Mariners (NWL: .326/.420/.505)
  • Tristan Gray, Tampa Bay Rays (SOU: .288/.442/.658, 8 HR)
  • Vinnie Pasquantino, Kansas City Royals (APP: .381/.440/.690)
  • Jake Scheiner, Seattle Mariners (CAL: .264/.322/.557, 9 HR)

The Bad First Base Prospect

Seth Beer, Arizona Diamondbacks. At the trade deadline, the Diamondbacks acquired Beer from the Astros as part of the package for Zack Greinke. Since his arrival, however, he has struggled in the SOU (.205/.297/.318). Presumably, he returns to the SOU to begin next year. Given the progress of Pavin Smith and Kevin Cron ahead of Beer, it may not be until 2021 until he debuts in the majors. In the meantime, he will have an opportunity to rebound in the Arizona Fall League.

Others of Note:

  • Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals (.197/.279/.342)

Additional First Base Prospect Notes

  • Luis Castro, Colorado Rockies enjoyed a big year in the California League (.317/.425/.584, 27 HR), mostly fueled by the favorable hitting conditions of his home park in Lancaster (.369/.455/.738). Upon his promotion to the Eastern League, he struggled (.220/.382/.339), leading to a demotion in mid-August.
  • Reynaldo Rivera, Detroit Tigers received an 80-game, PED suspension.
  • Notable AFL participants: Seth Beer, Arizona Diamondbacks; Roberto Ramos, Colorado Rockies; Gavin Sheets, Chicago White Sox; Alfonso Rivas, Oakland Athletics; J.J. Matijevic, Houston Astros
  • Notable August promotions: Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox (SAL to CAR); Alfonso Rivas, Oakland Athletics (CAL to PCL)
  • Notable August injuries: Ibandel Isabel, Cincinnati Reds (unknown)

Notable Second Base Prospect Performances

The Rising Second Base Prospect

Nick Solak, Texas Rangers. In mid-July, the Rangers acquired Solak from the Rays for Peter Fairbanks. The PCL further amplified his sneaky pop, and he blasted 10 home runs in just 30 games (.347/.386/.653). Consequently, Solak received a promotion on August 20th and promptly hit his first major league home run (below). Interestingly, he has batted cleanup and served as the designated hitter in the majority of his starts. Offensively, Solak is remarkably similar to Scott Kingery, with comparable power, speed, and size. Fantasy owners often overlook such hitters without any true plus tool. However, Solak has potential average-to-above offensive tools across the board (∼.265/20/10), which plays in all formats.

The Graduated Second Base Prospect

Luis Urias, San Diego Padres. Urias’ terrible debut last year (.208/.264/.354, 68 wRC+) is actually better than his performance in the majors this year (.183/.318/.268, 66 wRC+). While he has experienced some poor luck on balls in play (.226 BABIP), his expected statistics are not much better (.221 xBA, .323 xSLG). Meanwhile, his lack of power and speed, which most largely expected, makes him unplayable when he is not hitting for average. Admittedly, I should have stuck to my prior stance on Urias in fantasy, but his PCL-aided performance and peer pressure forced me to reevaluate my position. Nevertheless, Urias has plenty of future value in his promising hit tool and borderline-average power. However, his upside may just resemble (at best) Jeff McNeil.

The Major League Second Base Prospect

Isan Diaz, Miami Marlins. The Marlins promoted Diaz in early August following a stellar stretch in the PCL (.305/.395/.578, 26 HR). After a home run in his debut, he has been crickets (.149/.263/.198). Diaz also has performed poorly in the field, with 8 errors in just 29 games. All told, he has generated -1.3 WAR! Surprisingly, he has simply failed to make much hard contact (27.8%). On a positive note, Diaz has showcased his patient approach (11.9% BB) with reasonable swing-and-miss (26.3% K, 10.2% SwStr). Once the game power arrives, he should settle in as a three-true-outcomes slugger at second base.

Shed Long, Seattle Mariners. Injuries sidelined Long for nearly two months. Just four days after he returned from the injured list, he received a promotion back to the majors. The Mariners likely will give him an audition over the final few weeks to assess how he fits in next year’s plans. A versatile, but mediocre, defender, Long has received playing time at second base, third base, and left field. Whether he can hit enough will determine if his future lies as a utility bat or an everyday player. At his best, Long has potential borderline-average hitting ability and game power with above-average speed (.250/15/15).

Danny Mendick, Chicago White Sox. A prototypical utility infielder, Mendick plays serviceable defense at second base, shortstop, and third base (plus left field). Do not let his lack of pedigree fool you! Mendick has a solid hit tool with strong plate discipline (11.8% BB) and limited swing-and-miss (17.2% K, 7.7% SwStr). Most importantly, he began to tap into his raw power as the year progressed. While his tools are not flashy, Mendick may surprise with an extended opportunity.

Others of Note:

  • Kean Wong, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Robel Garcia, Chicago Cubs
  • Danny Mendick, Chicago White Sox
  • Kevin Kramer, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Breyvic Valera, New York Yankees

The Good Second Base Prospect

Andy Young, Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks acquired Young from the Cardinals as part of the package for Paul Goldschmidt. A former 37th round pick, he has consistently surprised since the 2016 draft, including a strong performance between the FSL and TEX last year (.289/.379/.479, 21 HR). Put that power in the PCL and watch out. Over his last 56 games, Young has launched 21 home runs, including a big August performance (.348/.482/.809, 10 HR). Like many players, he has benefited from favorable hitting environments in the PCL, but he has legitimate above-average raw power.

Ji-Hwan Bae, Pittsburgh Pirates. In mid-October, a South Korean court found Bae guilty of assaulting his former girlfriend. Consequently, he received a 30-day suspension for domestic violence. Since his return in mid-May, he has exhibited plus (or better) speed, including 13 stolen bases in August, and a promising hit tool (.323/.403/.430). However, Bae has little to no power, which certainly will play down further in the FSL next year.

Others of Note:

  • Miguel Hiraldo, Toronto Blue Jays (APP: .309/.352/.505)
  • Jahmai Jones, Los Angeles Angels (SOU: .313/.412/.469)
  • Omar Estevez, Los Angeles Dodgers (TEX: .297/.327/.505)
  • Ramon Urias, St. Louis Cardinals (PCL: .317/.463/.512)
  • Zach McKinstry, Los Angeles Dodgers (PCL: .397/.434/.744)

The Bad Second Base Prospect

Vidal Brujan, Tampa Bay Rays. The speedster has totaled 48 stolen bases in 99 games between the FSL and SOU. In addition, he has flashed a potential plus hit tool with high levels of contact (14.2% K, 6.4% SwStr). Despite his success, Brujan has little raw power, and his small, lithe frame (5’9″ and 155 pounds) does not portend future gains. With that said, even in bad months (.222/.317/.322 in August), he still provides speed (6 SB).

Additional Second Base Prospect Notes

  • Notable AFL participants: Jahmai Jones, Los Angeles Angels; Omar Estevez, Los Angeles Dodgers; Devin Mann, Los Angeles Dodgers; Gabriel Cancel, Kansas City Royals
  • Notable August promotions: Aaron Bracho, Cleveland Indians (AZL to NYP); Kody Clemens, Detroit Tigers (FSL to EAS); Santiago Espinal, Toronto Blue Jays (EAS to INT)

Notable Third Base Prospect Performances

The Rising Third Base Prospect

Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies. A poor debut last year (.252/.335/.324) and an unaggressive assignment to the SAL caused many to doubt Bohm entering the year. However, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft has proved his critics wrong, and then some. Bohm blitzed through the lower minors and impressed in the difficult EAS (.269/.344/.500, 146 wRC+). Notably, he has consistently made tons of contact (13.5% K, 7.7% SwStr) despite his long levers (6’5″). While he still utilizes a hit-over-power approach, he has steadily tapped more and more into his double-plus raw power (below). Once Bohm puts it all together, he has potential above-to-plus hit and power tools.

The Graduated Third Base Prospect

Ty France, San Diego Padres. The best hitter in the PCL this year (.399/.477/.770, 196 wRC+), France has nothing left to prove in the minors. Not only did he hit for average and power, but he also displayed exceptional plate discipline (51/30 K/BB) and tons of hard contact. Overall, he profiles as a potential average hitter with average-to-above power. Now, it is all about opportunity and taking advantage of it. With Fernando Tatis Jr. out for the season, France has a chance to impress. Next year, it is unclear where he will fit in the crowded Padres infield.

Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels. It is only a matter of time before the Angels pull the plug on the Thaiss third base experiment. In just 22 starts, he has committed 7 errors (.868 fielding %). Of course, his struggles are understandable as he has exclusively played first base until this year. Meanwhile, Thaiss has also performed poorly at the plate, hitting just .143/.239/.238 in August, and his swing-and-miss rates have spiked (31% K, 14% SwStr). Without prototypical corner power, he will need to rely on his formerly well-regarded hit tool to drive his profile. Ultimately, Thaiss may be destined for a period of limbo between the PCL and the majors.

Others of Note:

  • Michael Brosseau, Tampa Bay Rays

The Major League Third Base Prospect

Abraham Toro, Houston Astros. Yet another injury to Carlos Correa has opened the door to regular playing time for Toro. Prior to his promotion in late August, he was on fire between the TEX (.364/.424/.589 in July) and the PCL (.424/.506/.606 in August). Thus far, he has performed well at the plate (.255/.356/.490 through 9/9) and in the field. With that said, Toro is in a similar future predicament as Ty France. The Astros have a crowded infield, and, absent a trade or injury (very possible), his role likely will be as a utility infielder.

Sheldon Neuse, Oakland Athletics. The Athletics have an elite, franchise player at third base (Matt Chapman). Therefore, it is unsurprising Neuse has debuted predominantly at second base, where Jurickson Profar and Franklin Barreto have disappointed. In the PCL this year, he enjoyed a rebound campaign (.317/.389/.550), and he has been particularly good over his last 86 games (.346/.411/.611, 22 HR). Although his numbers pop, Neuse only has a below-to-borderline hit tool with a history of swing-and-miss, including 172 strikeouts last year (32%). In addition, his line drive stroke is not conducive to tapping into his above-to-plus raw power (∼31%-34% FB). Nonetheless, Neuse has some fantasy upside should he find regular playing time with enough hit and power to make noise (.250/20+).

Others of Note:

  • Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Yu Chang, Cleveland Indians
  • Zach Green, San Francisco Giants
  • Josh Fuentes, Colorado Rockies

The Good Third Base Prospect

Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers. At just 20 years old, Paredes has quietly enjoyed a tremendous season in the difficult EAS (.282/.368/.416, 133 wRC+). In fact, he has been particularly excellent over his last 34 games (.358/.420/.500). Few prospects possess his elite plate discipline (61/57 K/BB) and contact rates (11.1% K, 4.6% SwStr). The last piece of the puzzle for Paredes is game power, which currently only plays to the pull-side. On the year, he averaged a paltry estimated fly ball distance of ∼275 feet, and the majority of his home runs barely left the park (below). Should he tap into more of his average raw power, Paredes could take a substantial step and become a top 100 (or top 50) fantasy prospect.

Tristin English, Arizona Diamondbacks. A third round pick in the 2019 draft, English had a breakout season with Georgia Tech (.346/.427/.710, 18 HR). In his debut, he excelled in the NWL (.290/.356/.482, 138 wRC+), and finished strong in August (.349/.424/.616). The same aggressive approach he showcased throughout his amateur days has translated well to professional ball (17.1% K+BB). While he is a free-swinger, he has always limited his swing-and-miss, and his debut has been no different (11.1% K, 10% SwStr). English was a two-way player in college, and a focus on hitting may unlock his offensive potential. Do not sleep on him in deeper first year player drafts this offseason.

Others of Note:

  • Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds (SOU: .300/.422/.450)
  • Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates (INT: .327/.379/.452)
  • Sherten Apostel, Texas Rangers (CAR: .286/.434/.488)
  • Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers (CAL: .336/.375/.487)
  • Kevin Padlo, Tampa Bay Rays (INT: .277/.406/.602)
  • Joe Rizzo, Seattle Mariners (CAL: .327/.386/.442)
  • Andy Ibanez, Texas Rangers (PCL: .346/.420/.625, 7 HR)
  • Drew Ward, Washington Nationals (PCL: .302/.337/.573, 7 HR, 40 K)
  • Eguy Rosario, San Diego Padres (CAL: .327/.408/.523)

The Bad Third Base Prospect

Elehuris Montero, St. Louis Cardinals. A broken hamate bone sidelined Montero for nearly two months, and, since his return, he has been woeful (.164/.213/.242). While such injuries are known to sap power, his performance, especially his swing-and-miss issues (31.1% K, 19.5% SwStr), casts serious doubt on his bat. Of course, Montero just turned 21 years old and he is young for the TEX. This is a lost season, and, hopefully, he can rebound in the AFL.

Malcom Nunez, St. Louis Cardinals. Another young Cardinals third baseman, Nunez has not found the same success as he did in his record-setting DSL campaign last year. After an ill-fated taste of full-season ball (.183/.247/.197), he appeared to right the ship in the APP (.361/.381/.557 through August 2nd). Since then, however, he has turned in an empty performance (.159/.301/.232). Like Montero, Nunez is very young for his level (18), and much of his struggles can be forgiven.

Additional Third Base Prospect Notes

  • A second round pick in the 2019 draft, Nick Quintana, Detroit Tigers badly struggled in the Midwest League (.158/.228/.226), leading to a demotion to the New York-Penn League.
  • The Red Sox demoted Danny Diaz from the GCL to the DSL (ouch!).
  • Notable AFL participants: Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies; Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians; Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds; Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers; Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies; Elehuris Montero, St. Louis Cardinals; Hudson Potts, San Diego Padres; Rylan Bannon, Baltimore Orioles; Joe Rizzo, Seattle Mariners
  • Notable August promotions: Luis Toribio, San Francisco Giants (AZL to NWL); Rylan Bannon, Baltimore Orioles (EAS to INT); Jose Miranda, Minnesota Twins (FSL to SOU); Jomar Reyes, Baltimore Orioles (CAL to EAS, then promptly injured)
  • Notable August injuries: Kody Hoese, Los Angeles Dodgers (unknown)

Notable Shortstop Prospect Performances

The Rising Shortstop Prospect

Jeter Downs, Los Angeles Dodgers. After a slow start (.188/.247/.294), Downs has been superb. This past month, he dominated the CAL (.345/.449/.672) and the TEX (.333/.429/.688, 5 HR). Downs finished the year with 24 home runs and 24 stolen bases (.276/.362/.526), joining Kyle Tucker and Luis Robert as the only hitters who compiled a 24/24 seasons. With that said, Downs possesses just average raw power and speed. Notably, he utilizes an extremely leveraged swing (53.4% FB) to max out his power. In addition, his lofty stolen bases totals are due to his aggressive baserunning and strong instincts. Although his physical tools are merely average, Downs has a potential above-average hit tool, driven by advanced plate discipline and a feel to barrel the ball. Ultimately, he is greater than the sum of his parts and the type of player to take advantage of the current major league hitting environment.

Noelvi Marte, Seattle Mariners. The Mariners signed Marte for $1.55 million in the 2018 international class. Like Julio Rodriguez before him, Marte spent the entire short season in the DSL. Not until the end of the year did he truly take off. Over his last 15 games, he hit .468/.514/.839 with 5 home runs and 5 stolen bases. Marte has massive fantasy upside with plus raw power potential and plus (or better) speed (noting, Fangraphs is in the minority in the belief he has just average speed). Further, he has a lauded work ethic and a raw, but promising, hit tool. Stay tuned to reports out of fall instructs, but Marte is a potential big riser this offseason.

The Graduated Shortstop Prospect

Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays. Bo knows hitting. It is difficult to quibble with his stellar debut (.311/.347/.590, 10 HR). Bichette has flashed substantial power with tons of hard contact (47.5%). Additionally, he has exhibited above-average speed and a propensity to run, although with little early success (3-for-7 SB). The only issue with his performance is his mediocre discipline (41/9 K/BB) and slightly elevated swing-and-miss (12.8% SwStr). However, such issues are often common for 21-year-old rookies, and he has a solid track record of good plate discipline. Given his precocious talent, Bichette is a fast rising dynasty and redraft asset. In early redraft mocks, he is being selected as a 5th round pick.

The Major League Shortstop Prospect

Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers. Service time be damned; Lux has arrived! Thus far, he has received regular playing time at second base, where he likely will be solely eligible next year. Regardless, he has elite, five-category fantasy upside, with above-to-plus hitting ability, power, and speed.

Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs. With the injury to Javier Baez, the Cubs turned to Hoerner, despite an injury-riddled season which limited him to just 70 games at Double-A (.284/.344/.399, 116 wRC+). During that time, he demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate with superb discipline (31/21 K/BB) and contact (10.5% K, 6.1% SwStr). With a short, line drive stroke, Hoerner favors contact over power, causing his average raw power to play slightly down in games. Overall, he profiles as a potential above-to-plus hitter with some pop and speed (.280/15/15).

Mauricio Dubon, San Francisco Giants. The Giants recently acquired Dubon from the Brewers for Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black. Already, he has 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases in his first 10 games (.303/.324/.545). While the PCL has aided his power numbers (.302/.345/.477, 97 wRC+), Dubon is far from punchless, and his wiry, 6’0″ and 160-pound frame generates surprising pop. An aggressive hitter, he rarely walks (5%) and suffers more swing-and-miss than his strikeout rate suggest (12.6% K, 11.1% SwStr). Further, Dubon only has average speed despite gaudy stolen bases numbers earlier in his career. In sum, Dubon likely is merely an average hitter with modest power and speed (.270/10/10).

Willi Castro, Detroit Tigers. A remarkably similar hitter to Dubon, Castro has actually performed better, at just 22 years old, in the INT (.301/.366/.467, 113 wRC+). While Dubon packs a little more punch, Castro has more speed. In his brief debut, Castro has struggled (.189/.228/.245), but his future remains bright.

Others of Note:

  • Domingo Leyba, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Edmundo Sosa, St. Louis Cardinals

The Good Shortstop Prospect

Jeremiah Jackson, Los Angeles Angels. A second round pick in the 2018 draft, Jackson is yet another tooled up prep prospect drafted by the Angels. Given the organization’s recent success with such projects, it should come as no surprise Jackson is having a fantastic season. Indeed, he tied a PIO record with 23 home runs (.266/.333/.605). Still just 19 years old, Jackson remains raw at the plate, and his hit tool needs a lot of work. Indeed, he suffered a concerning amount of swing-and-miss (33% K, 18.7% SwStr). Nevertheless, his power, even in the hitter-friendly PIO, is special.

Ryan Vilade, Colorado Rockies. Up until this August, Vilade had mustered just 10 home runs in 224 games in full season ball. This is even more notable considering he played half his games in two of the best hitter’s parks in the minors: Asheville and Lancaster. As the year progressed, however, he steadily began to tap into his power (below). This past month, Vilade finally exploded for 7 home runs (.368/.412/.615). At the same time, his hit tool shows a lot of promise, with a disciplined, all fields approach (34/33/32) and reasonable swing-and-miss (16.2% K, 8.6% SwStr). To top it off, he also is an aggressive baserunner (24-for-31 SB).

Jose Garcia, Cincinnati Reds. At the end of the 2016/2017 international signing period, the Reds doled out nearly $5 million to sign Garcia. After a period of adjustment, he appears to be breaking out, hitting .280/.343/.436 (131 wRC+) in the difficult FSL, including .378/.426/.571 with 7 stolen bases in August. For more on Garcia, read Will Scharnagl’s article!

Others of Note:

  • Bryson Stott, Philadelphia Phillies (NYP: .324/.405/.490)
  • Orelvis Martinez, Toronto Blue Jays (GCL: .299/.377/.687)
  • Gabriel Arias, San Diego Padres (CAL: .330/.356/.536)
  • Josh Smith, New York Yankees (NYP: .333/.467/.512)
  • Taylor Walls, Tampa Bay Rays (SOU: .301/.337/.639)
  • Luis Verdugo, Chicago Cubs (AZL: .395/.439/.697)

The Bad Shortstop Prospect

Jorge Mateo, Oakland Athletics. Despite being on the 40-man roster, Mateo remained in the minors when rosters expanded in September. This came on the heels of a poor August (.220/.273/.317). Then, he suffered an injury during the PCL playoffs. As such, we may have to wait until 2020 for his debut.

Others of Note:

  • Kevin Smith, Toronto Blue Jays (EAS: .174/.224/.315, 36 K)
  • Will Wilson, Los Angeles Angels (PIO: .200/.273/.300)
  • Brady McConnell, Kansas City Royals (PIO: .175/.224/.325, 37 K)

Additional Shortstop Prospect Notes

  • The Rays demoted Lucius Fox from the INT to SOU.
  • Notable AFL participants: Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins; Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates; Luis Garcia, Washington Nationals; Andres Gimenez, New York Mets; Geraldo Perdomo, Arizona Diamondbacks; Kevin Smith, Toronto Blue Jays; Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros; Jose Garcia, Cincinnati Reds; Owen Miller, San Diego Padres; Jose Devers, Miami Marlins; Nick Allen, Oakland Athletics; Taylor Walls, Tampa Bay Rays; Mason McCoy, Baltimore Orioles; Jose Caballero, Seattle Mariners; C.J. Chatham, Boston Red Sox; Nick Maton, Philadelphia Phillies; Ernie Clement, Cleveland Indians
  • Notable August promotions: Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants (AZL to NWL); Geraldo Perdomo, Arizona Diamondbacks (MID to CAL); Braden Shewmake, Atlanta Braves (SAL to SOU); Alexander Vargas, New York Yankees (GCL to APP); Jacob Amaya, Los Angeles Dodgers (MID to CAL); Abiezel Ramirez, Tampa Bay Rays (GCL to APP); Jonathan Arauz, Houston Astros (CAR to TEX); C.J. Chatham, Boston Red Sox (EAS to INT); Nick Maton, Philadelphia Phillies (FSL to EAS); Ernie Clement, Cleveland Indians (EAS to INT)
  • Notable August injuries: CJ Abrams, San Diego Padres (shoulder contusion); Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins (leg bruise); Terrin Vavra, Colorado Rockies (unknown); Cadyn Grenier, Baltimore Orioles (oblique); Chad De La Guerra, Boston Red Sox (wrist sprain); Robbie Glendinning, Pittsburgh Pirates (right ankle sprain)

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 five-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.

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