Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Chih-Wei Hu, Jordan Patterson, Jeff Brigham, and Hoy Jun Park.
Prospect of the Day: Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Double-A Montgomery): 7 IP, 2 H, B, 6 K.
Hu was one of the most impressive arms I saw climb the hill at the Futures Game, sitting mid-90s (touching 97) and complimenting it with a devastating palm ball that moved like a splitter with fade at 89-90. There’s some deception to his release, which helps the fastball play up despite a fairly straight path, and it makes the slide-piece tougher to pick up as well. He’s still learning how to sequence and miss bats consistently, but the stuff is there for a quality no. 4 starter, and he’s got a frame you can hang all of the innings on.
Others of Note:
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So what are we supposed to do with him now? The good news is that he remains a physical specimen with an absurd arm, and if FRAA is to be believed, he’s been one of the best defensive right fielders in baseball this year in spite of a trip to the disabled list and periods of sporadic starting. All of those things are well and good, and the defensive value in particular is helpful fantasy-wise insofar as it keeps him in the regular lineup even when he’s struggling offensively. But offensive struggle has been the norm for Puig pretty much all season long. His below-average .255 TAv ranks 24th among right fielders with at least 250 plate appearances, just behind Pete Bourjos. Yes, the Peter Bourjos who was drafted 528th overall in leagues deep enough that people drafted Peter Bourjos. Puig’s return on investment has been… well, not good for fantasy players who drafted him in the fifth round this past spring. And it’s been an even worse development for those who are pot-committed in dynasty leagues. So let’s take a look at why his bat has been so lethargic this year, and whether there’s still hope for a sequel to his first impression.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Kolby Allard, D.J. Stewart, Max Pentecost, and Miguelangel Sierra.
Prospect of the Day: Kolby Allard, LHP, Atlanta Braves (Short-Season Danville): 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 K.
The Braves were aggressive in assigning Allard to full-season ball after his return from two back surgeries, but he’s looked much more comfortable in four starts since jumping back down to short-season. The fastball sat 92-93 out of the gate in this one, and he whiffed the side to start his night.
The U.S. fielded a deep team bursting with top-end talent, including five of the top 18 prospects in our mid-season update, and for most of the game it looked like they were well poised to ride solid pitching and Alex Bregman’s awesomeness to glorious victory before the wheels fell off late.
And here I thought A.Toles were ring-shaped reefs.
The Situation: Decimated by injury, five-and-a-half hour games, and the terrible-starting-pitching-induced need for a bullpen with the population of a small country, the Dodgers found themselves backed into a corner with just a three-man bench yesterday. With Will Venable DFA’d, the club was in need of some temporary outfield depth and has turned to the hot-hitting Toles, who brings one of the most unique rags-to-riches biographies you’ll see this side of The Rookie to his big league debut.
Background: Toles was considered a first-round talent at draft time in 2012, but slid to Tampa Bay in the third round on account of severe makeup concerns. He’d been kicked off his Division I team at Tennessee, then suspended by his junior college team during the spring, and ultimately fit the mold for Andrew Friedman’s run of gambling on talented players who were undervalued for character-concern reasons. He looked like a great investment at first, crushing the Midwest League with an .826 OPS and 62 stolen bases in 2013 and earning the Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year title. But he ran afoul again in 2014, culminating in a suspension for the second half, and was ultimately released after the season. He went unclaimed, then sat out all of 2015 while working at a grocery store. The Dodgers did ample homework on him, ultimately inviting him to fall instructs where he impressed on and off the field and earned himself another shot. The now-24-year-old started him at Rancho Cucamonga this spring, where he hit .370 in 22 games, and he hasn’t stopped hitting in the wake of two subsequent promotions through Triple-A.
Examining a handful of relievers who could have considerable fantasy value even if they don't close.
Any time is a good time to check in on reliever leaderboards to try and spot a couple loose canons for hire off the ol' Waiver Wire, but I've always tended to gravitate towards this particular time of year for a more in-depth stock check. We've got a nice combination of half-season performance from some of the older-hat options along with some dynamic recent recalls sprinkled in, so it's a particularly fertile opportunity to add ratio support to your bullpen before the final push to most trading deadlines begins. The PITCHf/x leaderboards have glorious hallways in which to wander searching for sound investments, and to that end here's a sample of four relievers who've caught my eye as potential second-half assets in formats that value bullpen arms for one reason or another.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dawel Lugo, Yohander Mendez, Ryan McMahon, and Matt Strahm.
Prospect of the Day:
Dawel Lugo, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (High-A Visalia): 4-5, 3 R, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI.
Yanno, I was supposed to go to this game before life interfered, and dag nabbit, I still haven’t seen a cycle in the flesh. Leyba continues to evolve for the better offensively, from a hitter who looked like he was waiting for a late bus in the box to one who takes some pitches and lets his natural hand-eye coordination produce line-drive contact.
Wilson recomments targeting these young'uns in midseason dynasty drafts and trades.
We’ve reached that point in the season where the minor leagues start to play their all-star games, and the first-half performers start migrating to their next respective levels, and the recent crop of draft picks starts to matriculate into short-season play, and the world is sunny and beautiful for prospect hounds. I play in a couple dynasty leagues that have mid-season prospect drafts, and I’ve always enjoyed the format. On one hand, it tends to encourage further prospect trading, as managers get faster and looser with their farmhands knowing they can replenish the coffers with recent draftees and J2 signees in short order. And on the other, there tends to be an opportunity to grab some helium guys that can get lost in the shuffle of the race to snag the newest first-rounders. So with that as my backdrop, here’s a list of some personal favorites to either make a play for in trade over the next couple weeks or add to your target list for an upcoming prospect draft.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Triston McKenzie, Jose Berrios, Charlie Tilson, and Wilmer Difo.
Prospect of the Day:
Triston McKenzie, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Short-Season Mahoning Valley): 6 IP, ER, 2 H, 8 K, HRA.
Well, McKenzie finally gave up his first professional run, but as of this writing it’s the only one he’s given up in his first three starts and 16 2/3 innings. It’s going to take forever and a day for Cleveland to really get a bead on just what they’ve got with McKenzie, who won’t turn 19 until August and still boasts a frame that would make Ric Ocasek blush. As career origin stories go, however, his first couple pages have featured quality prose.