We’re all busy working the waiver wire looking for the week’s hottest additions but at the same time, we should be looking towards the distant future. The Fantasy Baseball season is six months long. Between now and then there will be dozens of players who are currently playing in the minor leagues that will end up on big league rosters. Which ones should you consider rostering? Who has the best chance to be the next “big thing?”
I’ve got you covered. This is my third year of writing the “Watch List,” and I’m proud of the fact that a big chunk of the minor league players I’ve recommended in the past have eventually gotten “the call” and made their major league debuts. I’ve got another five potential studs that you should familiarize yourself with. Some have a good chance of seeing big league action this season, and others are still a year or two away. Quoted statistics are accurate as of the morning of 4/9/2018. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @joegallina.
Corbin Burnes, Starting Pitcher, Brewers
Corbin Burnes has quickly climbed the ranks through the Brewers’ farm system and while it’s more likely that he’ll be a featured member of their starting rotation in 2019, he has a shot at facing big league bats before this season is over. The 23-year-old right-hander features a four-pitch mix including a fastball in the mid-90s, a curveball with downward action, and an above average changeup and big-time slider. He has consistently demonstrated excellent control as evident in his career 9.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 rates. He’s starting the season at Triple-A, but depending on the Brewers’ needs, Burnes could end up being a mid to late season call-up.
Tyler O’Neill, Outfielder, Cardinals
O’Neill is a power hitting outfield prospect who has a good chance of seeing big league action this season as well. A change in his approach at the plate late last season, coupled with his above-average bat speed, helped elevate his HR/FB rate and contributed to the 12 home runs he hit in his last 37 games. His slugging proficiency is real, but at times he can be a bit inconsistent at the plate. His strike zone judgment could use a bit of improvement, but when he’s locked in he could cause a lot of damage with his bat.
Jack Flaherty, Starting Pitcher, Cardinals
Flaherty started one game for the Cardinals before he was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Adam Wainwright, but he’ll be back. In that one big league start, he dominated the Brewers, striking out nine batters, and giving up just one run in five innings. He’s another young pitcher with a four-pitch repertoire who’s demonstrated excellent command throughout his professional career. Although he sputtered a bit in six games pitched for the Cards last September, he has posted an impressive 13.6 percent swinging strike rate in limited big league action thus far (26.1 innings pitched). Flaherty has the kind of skill set that should help him develop into a solid middle of the rotation type starter.
Jesus Lazardo, Starting Pitcher, A’s
The A’s look like they have a keeper in Lazardo, and if you play in a dynasty league and he’s available on the waiver wire, scoop him up. The 20-year-old left-hander is likely two years away from making his big-league debut, but he has been dominant in his short minor league career. He throws a sinking fastball that reaches the upper 90 mph range, as well as a changeup and curveball that both have good movement.
Lazardo has struck out 54 batters and walked just six in his 48-inning professional career. He’s approximately 20 months removed from having Tommy John surgery, and Lazardo is one of those lucky pitchers who’s been able to make a fairly quick recovery without sacrificing velocity or control. Lazardo has a way to go before he faces big league hitters, but his 1.69 ERA and 0.94 WHIP show that he could have a bright future ahead of him.
Bo Bichette just hits… pic.twitter.com/S9FIskoqVN
— Kevin Black (@Kevin_Black_) April 7, 2018
Bo Bichette, Shortstop, Blue Jays
Bichette is one of the top prospects in baseball, but he is also at least a full year away from seeing big league action. He has an incredible hitting tool which has helped him compile an impressive .370/.425/.584 slash line in 609 plate appearances. He has a tremendous blend of speed and developing power. Scouts describe him as consistently making hard contact at the plate while using his controlled aggression hitting approach to his advantage. Bichette is another player who should be owned in all dynasty and keeper Fantasy formats. His eventual development into a high average, power hitting middle infielder makes him a potentially valuable future Fantasy Baseball player.
Bo Bichette Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jason Behnken
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