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Outside the Top 100: Four Prospects With Strong April Performances

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Jason Hunt takes a quick look at four prospects who sat outside his top 100 fantasy prospects before the season who have gone out and performed well through the first month of the season. Does the performance change how they are viewed, or is it possible it's just a hot first month?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We're about a month into the minor league season, and with it we are starting to see some prospects out performing their previous ranking (or lack of ranking) within my top 100 fantasy prospects. Let's take a brief look at four prospects that have been dominant so far, and what might be next for each of them.

Jose De Leon (LAD) - De Leon was my last cut from the Dodgers' top 10 fantasy prospect list this offseason, and that decision is one I may really regret by the end of the season. The Dodgers moved De Leon up to High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and in six starts has a 50:6 strikeout to walk ratio while allowing just 21 hits in 32 innings. Strong numbers in the Cal League generally jump off the page, and when in-person reports are just as positive (such as this one from Wilson Karaman over at Minor League Ball), it's hard not to get excited. The potential remains for De Leon to be a mid-rotation starting pitcher for fantasy, and I would not be surprised if he is moved up to AA by the end of June.

Blake Snell (TAM) - Zero runs allowed. 40 innings pitched between High-A and AA in seven appearances. This is a pair of completely ridiculous stats when coupled together. Snell now has 48 strikeouts against 16 walks in those 40 innings, and has continued to get grounders above 50% as well, which leads me to think he can potentially sustain some of this. He's obviously going to allow a run at some point, but it sounds like this has the potential to continue. Jessica Quiroli of Minor League Ball interviewed Snell's manager at High-A Charlotte, and he noted this:

On Blake Snell, when asked the key to his success: His command. If he throws strikes he's as good as anybody. He's got three above average pitches, fastball and secondary. His thing his whole career is command.

Trevor Story (COL) - Story has gotten off to a crazy hot start at AA New Britain, hitting .361/.466/.639 with five home runs and six stolen bases through Monday's game. The rumors that the Rockies may trade Troy Tulowitzki will likely lead to speculation that Story could be the replacement should that occur, but I don't believe that happens immediately in spite of this strong start and open position with a trade. He seems likely to come back down somewhat (a BABIP of .472 practically guarantees it), but he could likely have solid value as a fantasy shortstop who provides double digit home runs and stolen bases even with a bad average. I can see a promotion to AAA, but I don't think it happens until after the All-Star break.

Carlos Tocci (PHI) - We've been hearing about Tocci for a long time, as he debuted with the Phillies' GCL team back in 2012 and has spent the rest of his professional career in Lakewood in the Sally League. The reports on Tocci have always been concerned about how thin he has been (listed at 6'2", 160 lbs), but that the potential for a solid producer in two categories was there based on the tool profile. I'm not ready to change my thinking on him significantly yet, but hitting .350 with 9 steals in 9 attempts through Monday bodes well for his next step in development. His walk rate and strikeout rates have both improved dramatically so far this year, which is definitely a point in his favor. He's still more of a deeper league play right now until he can sustain the performance for a longer period of time, but it wouldn't surprise me if he finished the year at High-A Clearwater.