The Fantasy Jesus Unveils Some Less-Mentioned Top Prospects To Consider
With all of the resources at the fingertips of today’s Fantasy Baseball player you have to really put your time in in order to gain an advantage over your league mates. There is no such thing as a sleeper anymore, and if you play in a league with 12 or more teams, the blue chip prospects like Ronald Acuna and Walker Buehler were likely selected and stashed away on draft day. When the Blue Jays promoted Lourdes Gurriel Jr. last week they showed that some Major League teams aren’t afraid to call up a Double-A player if they think he’s ready and can help them. That means that only familiarizing yourself with the top prospects in Triple-A simply isn’t going to cut it anymore. This week I’ve identified another five players who should be on your Watch List. All but one are currently playing Double-A ball and some of them might end up in the big leagues before this season is over.
Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves
Soroka turned some heads with his big time spring stats, and he hasn’t let up, as he continued to mow down hitters in his first three starts in Triple-A. The 20 year-old right-hander has been working his way up the ladder within the Braves’ farm system since the age of 17, and every time he was promoted he continued to progress. Soroka’s six-foot five frame helps him get a downward angle on his pitches and that has helped him increase his strikeout rate. So far this season he has posted an 11.49/9 K-Rate. Soroka’s pinpoint control can get batters to swing and miss any one of his three pitches (lower 90-mph range fastball, curveball and changeup) and that gives him a shot at making his Major League debut before this season is done. The good news is that he’s averaged close to 150 innings pitched over the past two seasons, and that means he’ll likely be available to pitch deep into this season without fear of his having to worry about innings limitations.
D.J. Peters, Outfield, Los Angeles Dodgers
Some of you may remember Peters from when he first made national headlines last summer by homering off of Madison Bumgarner twice in one inning during a MadBum rehab start. Those home runs are just a taste of the kind of power that he possesses. Peters is quickly rising through the Dodgers’ minor league system and he has enjoyed immense success thus far. He has posted a .303/396/.552 triple slash as well as a gaudy 948 OPS. Peters has excellent bat speed and an uppercut swing that will allow him to take advantage of his ability to hit home runs. Peters’ career walk rate is in the double digits, however if he wants to enjoy a long big league career, he’ll have to work on cutting down on his swing and misses. Maybe the fact that he’s already playing Double-A ball in only his third year as a pro might account for his high strikeout totals, however Peters will have to work on improving his discipline at the plate.
What a hit by DJ Peters! A butter-smooth swing sent the ball driving into the batter’s eye at ONEOK Field.#JackieRobinsonDay #FortyTwo #MLB #NO42 #Dodgers #HomeRun #Baseball #Drillers #MiLB #Tulsa pic.twitter.com/u1NV7K5R9R
— Tulsa Drillers (@TulsaDrillers) April 16, 2018
Hunter Harvey, SP, Baltimore Orioles
Although Dylan Bundy is starting to show some signs of life, it’s been a while since the Orioles farm system has produced a legitimate ace. Oriole Park At Camden Yards has traditionally been tough on pitchers, but maybe Hunter Harvey is good enough to overcome the challenges there. Harvey’s career numbers (2.54 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) are impressive, but what’s even more encouraging is how quickly he has rebounded after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2016. Harvey’s velocity is back up to where it was pre-surgery (92-97 mph range) and he also features a plus curveball. Harvey gets his fastball over the plate and his curveball has late breaking downward action, which causes batters to swing and miss. His changeup is average at best and needs some work but overall, Harvey continues to demonstrate good command of his pitches and above average strikeout to walk ratios. In five minor league seasons he has posted an 11.4 K/9 rate and a manageable 3.2 BB/9 rate. Although he’s started the season in Double-A, at the rate he is progressing, he could earn a promotion before long. With the fact that he only pitched 18.2 innings last season, I wouldn’t expect him to see big league action until 2019, but if you play in a dynasty league he is worth a speculative add.
Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Like Harvey, Mitch Keller is a Double-A pitcher who features a three pitch mix, including an explosive fastball that can touch the upper 90 mph range, an impressive curveball and a developing changeup. Keller is widely regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. He consistently throws strikes and his career 2.5 BB/9 rate is a good indicator of his above-average ability to keep batters off of the bases. A forearm strain in 2015 and a back strain last season somewhat slowed his career progress, but if he can stay healthy this season, he’ll likely get promoted to Triple-A, and could very well see big league action by September.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Third Baseman, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are blessed with two of the top hitting prospects in baseball in Bo Bichette (profiled in our last article), and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Guerrero is just 19 years old but if you want to get an idea of just how good he is check out his lifetime strikeout and walk totals. So far, he has more walks (115) than strikeouts (102) in his minor league career. Guerrero has excellent strike zone recognition, he can hit for average, and he hits for power to all fields. Early in his career he might even end up stealing upwards of 10 bases per season for you. He is as close to a can’t-miss prospect as you’ll ever find. There’s a slight chance that he gets called up before the season is over, however the more likely scenario is that he’ll make his big league debut in 2019.
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Mike Sorotka Featured Image: (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)