That was a clip from Toy Story 2, which famously introduced us to the song and fictitious TV show, Woody’s Roundup. As a child of all things Pixar, I for one cannot ever get that tune out of my head. THANKS, RANDY NEWMAN! But we didn’t come hear to discuss the finer points of Tom Hanks’ career. We came here for baseball, dammit!
Side note…I just recently saw Bridge of Spies and enjoyed it thoroughly. I highly recommend it. And as a person trying to get paid to act in things, I also appreciated Mark Rylance’s Oscar winning performance.
That gives us a perfect segue into our topic today. A whole article on prospects! It’s the prospect roundup, y’all! Come on, gather round! Some old. Some new. Some that you haven’t even thought of yet.
Quick thought. Isn’t it funny that we don’t think of people like Dansby Swanson as a prospect anymore? He most certainly still is, but we have all moved on to the next shiny toy coming up through the minors. Ah, fantasy. That being said, there are an abundance of prospects out there, and I know we all have stuff to do on this Friday afternoon, so we will keep it to a limited list. Special shout out to Mitch Haniger who was omitted due to injury. Get better soon, Mitch! Here are 10 I’m paying special attention to.
THE PROSPECT ROUNDUP!
Let’s start with the most recent callups: (1) Bradley Zimmer and (2) Ian Happ.
Bradley Zimmer received that call earlier this week to take over in centerfield because Lonnie Chisenhall had been manning the position for the Indians. Lonnie Chisenhall. Let that sink in. After the Indians lost Brandon Guyer, Abraham Almonte, and Austin Jackson to injuries, it made sense to see what the youngster had instead of trotting out Chisenhall’s carcass to play center. I can’t argue with the Tribe’s assessment.
To summarize Zimmer’s skills in the most basic way possible, he’s an on base guy that can flash some decent power who also has the ability to swipe a solid number of bags. In 144 plate appearances in AAA this season, he was slashing .294/.371/.532, but what stands out to me from his minor league numbers are the stolen bases from the past two seasons. Across two levels in 2016, he swiped 38. In 2015, it was 44. Pretty impressive stuff even through the scope of the minor leagues.
Now, obviously, we all want to know what we can expect from him moving forward. 38 steals? Not a chance. 44? Reach for the sky, partner. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be a stolen base asset. He will be. Just more like 20. As for the hit tool, I have to say woah there, Bullseye. While he can definitely take a walk as evidenced by that nice OBP, he’s really struggled with contact over his last 3 minor league stops. Baseball America gave him a 45 grade before the season for his hit tool, which is average. I think he will hit .250/.350/.420 within the next year but be expecting something closer to a .220/.330/.390 triple slash this year as he adjusts to big league pitching.
The positive outlook is that the Indians don’t really have anything to lose by giving him significant time this year. He’s got the potential to hit 10 HRs and steal 20 bags rest of season. That’s usable, but don’t go crazy. Considering the situation in the Cleveland outfield this season, it would be in their best interest to let the kid run with the big boys for now.
On to Ian Happ. Coming into the 2017 season, Baseball America gave the Cubs prospect a nice, well-rounded 55 on bat, power and speed. This is similar to Zimmer but expect a much better average from Happ. For further comparison’s sake, this was an almost identical set of grades to what BA gave Joc Pederson before the 2014 season. But I digress.
In AAA this season, Happ had posted a stat line of 21 R/9 HR/25 RBI/2 SB to go with a .298/.362/.615 triple slash. Pretty darn good, yo. He’s a pretty balanced player that has the skills to post a 20/20 year with a nice average in the very near future. The biggest concern I have with Happ, however, is playing time. Chicago has far better depth this season than Cleveland, and once Heyward returns from the DL, it could be tough for Happ to find a spot.
It is worth noting that the Chicago Tribune stated Happ may start seeing some work at the corner infield spots as they try to find ways to get him in the lineup. Obviously, he won’t be supplanting Bryant or Rizzo any time soon or ever, but it’s clear that the Cubs realize his bat belongs somewhere in the major league lineup soon. That being said, the best place for Happ this season is getting reps in Iowa. While his prospect ceiling may be higher than what you’ll get with Heyward this season, I don’t see the Cubs having the stones to make that move, and I don’t think they should. I like him better than Zimmer in the future, but barring injury, this is a short-lived promotion. You’ll have more use with Zimmer in 2017.
It wouldn’t be a prospect article if we didn’t mention the top prospect of them all, (3) Yoan Moncada. I, like so many others, have been waiting patiently all year with the White Sox future star planted squarely on the fantasy bench. We all thought the Sox were just biding their time until the Super 2 deadline passed, but the higher ups say they’re just giving him some good ol’ fashioned seasoning at AAA. No need to rush a 21 year old. Fair enough. BUT WE WANT DONGS, DAMMIT! AND WE WANT THEM IN THE MAJORS.
Management aside, the fantasy gods have decided we will have to wait a little while longer as Moncada landed on the 7-day DL Wednesday with a sore left thumb. Sources say he injured it trying to thumb a ride to get the hell out of Charlotte, NC. Just kidding. Charlotte is a wonderful place. Just ask Cam Newton.
Be patient and stay strong, my fellow Moncada owners. It will happen. Here is a clip of a Moncada dong. Let it appease you.
This roundup is moving right along! I call this section Jesse’s Just Checkin’! As in Jesse the cowgirl is just checkin’ in on some prospects already putting in their time in the majors.
(4) Cody Bellinger is doing just fine.
18 R/7 HR/20 RBI/1 SB with a .308/.379/.667 triple slash
And there’s more where that came from! He won’t hit .300 all season, but he’s been hitting 4th in the Dodgers’ lineup recently and he’s taking to it very nicely. Is this the next Freddie Freeman???
RIP the 2017 Braves, btw. As if there was ever any chance at all…
(5) Manuel Margot is doing pretty well, too!
He’s a guy who was projected to help you with average and stolen bases, and so far, he’s doing just that. For the most part. Ok, fine. He could be stealing more. Is he blowing you away? No. But he’s posted a respectable .274 average with a .319 OBP in his rookie season. He should only get better from here.
Considering that he has batted leadoff in all but 3 games this season, I think he will have ample opportunity to raise that OBP, so don’t give up on him just yet because of that .319. He started the year flashing some unexpected power with 3 HR in the first two weeks, but only has one since. That’s the Margot you should expect moving forward. I’ll say he only gets 5 dingers the rest of the season. Zips and Steamer say he should steal about 20 more bags in 2017, and hey, the Padres suck and have nothing to lose. I say let him run wild!!!
Now, on to his teammate, (6) Hunter Renfroe. He is doing a great Joey Gallo impression this year with 14 R/8 HR/18 RBI to go with a .214/.271/.416 triple slash. That average is disgusting, and he is unrosterable in OBP leagues, but this is a bat with 30 HR potential this season. Fire away, roto leaguers that only count average. Yeah, I said it! What?!
He is striking out an expected 27.2% of the time making him a true two outcome guy this year. Don’t be fooled by his incredible .306 average last year in AAA El Paso. That’s not happening again or ever. I know you want to, but don’t fall for it. That was in the Pacific Coast League, and rumor has it that El Paso uses actually chihuahuas instead of bats which makes the ball really fly out of the park there. He’s been ice cold the first half of May, but he’s posted a few multi-hit games this past week. With a guy like this, you’ll want to hang on tight for the hot streaks when they come.
And that brings us to my favorite prospect on this list, (7) Andrew Benintendi. Benny Baseball himself! Still love that nickname for the former Razorback. Anywho, check the stat line:
22 R/5 HR/23 RBI/3 SB with .280/.355/.427
I’d be totally cool if Benintendi wins the AL ROY and Bellinger the NL. That’s not a hot take at all, but it is what it is. The Ol’ Prospector thinks so too.
No, dammit. Not that one. I mean Gus Chiggins.
That’s the one. What’s crazy to think is that his BABIP is actually a little lower than what he posted in the minors, so he may be even better than what we’re seeing at the moment. He’s dipped slightly with a little week-long slump, but that’s to be expected from rookies.
Interesting food for thought about this slump. He doesn’t have a hit since May 9th. Exactly 3 days before that, he moved from 2nd to 4th in the batting order. He’d been hitting 2nd all year. He moves to 4th and slumps. MOVE HIM BACK TO 2ND, FARRELL! Anyways, I love Benny Baseball. He sat out last night in Oakland to collect his thoughts and think about all the sweet pranks he pulled in the dorms at Arkansas. He’s a very solid player on a very solid lineup, and one day, he’s going to post a 20/20 season with a .300 average. You heard it here fifth.
Now, here’s Arkansas fans calling the hogs.
Listen, I’m proud of my southern heritage too. But that is literally 60,000 people standing up essentially saying “LOOK AT HOW REDNECK WE ARE!”
Let’s close this baby off with a little somewhat deeper dive into 3 prospects worth mentioning.
We start with the one who may be not so far away, (8) Rhys Hoskins. Bottom line is that Hoskins has got major power. Across two levels in 2015, he averaged a .515 slugging percentage. He turned right around posted an outstanding .566 in AA last year en route to 38 bombs and 116 RBIs. This season, he is doing much of the same at AAA with a .709 slugging to go with his 12 bombs.
But not only that…he also gets on base! Since 2015, his lowest OBP in the minors was at AA Reading where he posted a .377 mark. He gets on base, he hits for power, and he’s actually working a smooth 17% K rate this year at AAA Lehigh Valley, which is unusual for a typical slugger. Tommy Joseph is blocking his way at the Major League level, but the Phillies may get creative in order to get him up to the bigs before too long.
Next, we move to someone who looked right on the cusp, but now I’m not so sure. It’s (9) Franklin Barreto. After Semien went down earlier this year, it seemed like Barreto would get the call, but it was Chad Pinder’s Razor that rang instead. Not sure if he does, but that seems like the kind of phone Pinder would rock.
Anyways, Barreto is really struggling with strikeouts in the minors this season with a 27% K rate despite the fact he has a .313/.364/.483 triple slash. Another thing that has me concerned is he has only stolen 3 bases all season. This is a guy who was shooting up the prospect ranks with speed as a plus asset, and yet, he hasn’t really gotten going in that area. It’s pretty clear that the A’s want to give the 21 year old more seasoning, and I can’t blame them. Hold in those dynasty leagues for now, but I wouldn’t think he’ll be a factor for fantasy at any point this season.
And finally, we do a deep dive to bring up (10) Michael Kopech. I have to admit a little hometown bias here. I am from Birmingham, Alabama, and I got to see KKKopech in a start earlier this season for the Barons. It was pretty great experience, he struck out 10, and one day, I hope to be sitting with my children’s children saying “did I ever tell you about the time I saw Michael K….*dozes off*…” And yes, I’ll speak the “dozes off” part aloud, too. Don’t think I won’t.
The former first round pick of the Red Sox who came over with Moncada in the Sale trade has been lights out at AA this season. His plus fastball (projected 70 on Fangraphs!) has been blowing by guys to the tune of a 12.99 K/9 and a 3.06 ERA through 35 1/3 IP in 2017. He’s walking far too many batters (5.02 BB/9) to warrant a promotion to AAA Charlotte at this point, but this is very encouraging. He’s #3 in the White Sox system only behind Moncada and Giolito, and while I think he’s still more than a season away from the big leagues, I wanted to make sure you put this guy on your dynasty radars…if he isn’t owned already.
That will do it for the prospect roundup, folks. I had a great time! I know it was a long one, so thanks for sticking through it, both of you. Do me a favor and give me a follow on the Twitter @jakebridges03! Feel free to comment or be a total hater in the section below! Have a fantastical week.