So you’ve missed out on Ronald Acuna, Harrison Bader is gone, Dylan Cozens never loved you, someone snapped up Hunter Dozier in April, and even The Other Cody Reed is owned. It’s been tough sledding for you when it comes to grabbing the hot new talent in the minors this season, and your dynasty league’s MiLB roster is looking a bit thin as a result.
Maybe you’re still rostering Bubba Starling or Clayton Blackburn or Marco Gonzales. Perhaps you’ve made a mad dash to grab the first new name you see on a recent BP ten-pack or BA Prospect Report. It’s possible things are so desperate that you’re cycling through minor league retreads like Chris Taylor and Nick Franklin (I’ve done this). Things are bad.
It’s time to shake the cobwebs off the bottom of your roster and get in on some of 2016’s hot new minor league action. No matter how deep your league is, odds are at least a handful of the following 10 players will be available still. And while some of these guys are best picked up with the express purpose of selling “high” on them by including them as third of fourth pieces in bigger deals, there are also a few remaining diamonds in the rough you might want to stash for the future.
Oddly enough, this is not a comprehensive list of everyone in the minors whose done well this season. Do not @ me with the name of the Low-A shortstop from your favorite team who’s hitting .350 through his first 19 PA. That’s what the Bat Signal is for (ask for Craig).
Wuilmer Becerra, OF, NYM
Becerra is known to Mets fans (he made their 2016 top-10 list) and Blue Jays fans (he’s the cherry on top of the poop sundae that was the R.A. Dickey deal), but more casual baseballing enthusiasts are likely just starting to learn his name. The 21-year-old is mashing to the tune of .340/.369/.408 in St. Lucie, and he’s continuing a promising trend of lowering his strikeout rate (down to 16.4 percent) as he rises through the system. Bret Sayre wrote that Becerra’s ceiling is probably a 15-homer/15-steal outfielder with a good average, and while that won’t win you a dynasty league, it will sure as hell help. I’d guess we’re only a few weeks away from you losing out on Becerra, so buy now. The Verdict: STASH
Zach Eflin, SP, PHI (Triple-A)
Eflin’s a guy who’s been on my radar for a long while, and after stagnating a bit in the mid-minors he’s really taken off in Triple-A so far in 2016. A 2.81 ERA with 48 strikeouts, eight walks and just two homers allowed in 57 2/3 innings will get you noticed, and it’s easy to imagine Eflin holding down a spot in the Phillies rotation at some point in the next four-to-eight weeks. Eflin’s upside is fairly modest thanks to his lack of strikeouts, but he should be useful in 20-team leagues immediately, with an ultimate ceiling of a guy you can start consistently in all but the worst matchups. Thank god I dropped him this offseason in #TDGX. The Verdict: STASH
Ronald Guzman, 1B, TEX (Double-A)
Once upon a time it wasn’t *totally* unreasonable to prefer Guzman to Nomar Mazara. Sure, Guzman had to settle for a paltry $3.5 million deal while Mazara raked in $5 million, but they were both big-time prospects when Texas pried them away from the Dominican Republic in 2012 and 2011, respectively. Guzman struggled mightily in 2014 and experienced only fleeting success last season, and he’s certainly not catching Mazara now. But the 21-year-old is hitting .329/.392/.547 in 189 PA in Frisco so far this year, pulling off the best career resurrection this side of The Wall. First-base prospects are inherently scary because of the laws of positional values, but Guzman is fairly close to the majors and has pedigree. He’s a definite top-150 and borderline top-100 fantasy prospect for me right now. The Verdict: STASH
Ryon Healy, 1B/3B, OAK (Triple-A)
We talked about Healy for a bit on the last episode of TINO when going over a reader email asking us to name some new hot prospects. I’m not going to lie — I had never heard of him before Bret and Craig brought him up. But it’s hard not to be impressed by Healy’s long track-record of hitting, even if he’s generally done so while a bit old for his levels. Now, Healy is hitting .375/.426/.563 in 12 games in Nashville after crushing Double-A for April and early May. While the Athletics have a plethora of 1B/3B/UT types—Danny Valencia, Yonder Alonso, The Remains of Billy Butler, Max Muncy, Renato Nunez, etc—the odds are that playing time will open up time for Healy if he keeps hitting like this. See if his proximity to the majors and MiLB stats make him attractive to someone in your league. The Verdict: FLIP
Ben Lively, SP, PHI (Triple-A)
Another member of the Lehigh Valley rotation who makes the list, Lively was recently promoted after nine fairly dominant starts in Double-A in which he posted a 1.87 ERA and 23.8 K percent in 53 innings. The problem? Scouts don’t see livel … stuff that will miss bats at the MLB level when they watch Lively pitch, as his low-90s fastball, decent-but-non-elite slider, and forgettable additional offers don’t instill a ton of confidence. There’s a pretty good chance Lively will be able to beguile minor league hitters, and he does have the frame to log innings. But this is exactly the type of pitcher you want to try to sell high on in any capacity. If he’s still on your roster when he makes the majors, you’ll want to use him sparingly. The Verdict: FLIP
Max Pentecost, C, TOR (Single-A)
It’s hard to forget a name like Max Pentecost, though you’d be forgiven for doing so after the backstop missed all of 2015 following his brief 2014 debut. With his troubling history of shoulder troubles seemingly behind him, Pentecost is now back on the field, and he’s taken a liking to Lansing, hitting .295/.357/.344 in 70 PA. That type of success is to be expected of a college bat who, when drafted, probably wouldn’t look out of place in High-A (a point Craig made on the last TINO), but after such a long layoff, it’s nice to see Pentecost hit nonetheless. There’s no crazy upside here, but potential starting catchers are hard to come by in 20-team keepers. That’s what Pentecost could be by the end of 2017 if things break right. The Verdict: STASH
Christin Stewart, OF, DET (High-A)
It might seem odd to list a guy hitting .232 here, but the rest of Stewart’s stats explain why he’s worth a look in 20-team dynasty leagues right now. The 22-year-old is posting a .363 OBP and .537 SLG, and his average is being weighed down by a .234 BABIP. Add in Stewart’s 15 homers in 215 PA, and you get why Greg Wellemeyer namedropped Stewart in his Five to Watch piece a few weeks back. The elephant in the room is that Stewart is a bit old for his level, but the supplemental first-rounder is gaining steam, and now is a good time to grab him. I don’t love his long-term prospects, but someone might love his short-term numbers. The Verdict: FLIP
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