I like to awaken early each morning, have some coffee and cereal, then check the box scores and news tidbits for all the happenings around both the Majors and Minors. On most days, once I've finished, I'm forced to confront the long morning-and-sometimes-afternoon void until games begin again, so a 10:35 A.M. ET start between the Gwinnett Braves (Braves) and Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers) of the Triple-A International League seemed just the tonic. Better yet, the game featured a pitching match-up between Gwinnett RHP Lucas Sims, our #10 fantasy prospect in the Atlanta system, and Toledo RHP Michael Fulmer, ranked #63 overall on our Fake Teams Consensus Top 100 Fantasy Prospect List.
Then Fulmer got promoted to the Majors.
This is great news for Tigers fans and fantasy players, but it certainly took the luster off my Gwinnett-Toledo breakfast tilt. Such is life for those who follow the Minor Leagues. As we've seen with all the promotions these past few weeks, elite prospects tend to come and go quickly.
Speaking of elite prospects, Thursday evening's best match-up will feature #2 overall prospect RHP Lucas Giolito of the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) against LHP Kyle Freeland and the Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies) of the Double-A Eastern League. Freeland, a first-round pick in 2014, is the 7th-ranked fantasy prospect in the loaded Rockies' organization. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 ET.
On Friday evening at 7:05 ET a pair of Top 50 pitching prospects who already have made their Major-League debuts, RHP Robert Stephenson of the Louisville Bats (Reds) and LHP Blake Snell of the Durham Bulls (Rays), will go head-to-head in the Triple-A International League match-up of the weekend. Stephenson was our 33rd-ranked fantasy prospect entering the season, while Snell checked in at #20.
If you like pitching but would prefer to watch a few unheralded prospects, then you should enjoy the Double-A Southern League clash between RHP Chris Ellis of the Mississippi Braves (Braves) and LHP Jarlin Garcia of the Jacksonville Suns (Marlins), also at 7:05 ET. Ellis did not make our list of Atlanta's top 10 fantasy prospects, but he once was a top arm in the Angels' system and does enter the game with a sparkling 1.16 ERA. Garcia ranked 3rd in the Miami organization and also has started well in 2016 (3.10 ERA and 4:16 BB:K).
Two of the best and most prospect-laden series overall, regardless of pitching matchups, will take place in the Lone Star State. 1B Matt Olsen, SS Chad Pinder, 3B Renato Nunez, and the Nashville Sounds (Athletics) will face #7 overall prospect 3B Joey Gallo, former #1 overall prospect SS Jurickson Profar, and the Round Rock Express (Rangers) of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Olsen, Pinder, and Nunez ranked 3rd, 9th, and 10th respectively on our list of Oakland's top 10 fantasy prospects. Gallo, one of baseball's most celebrated young sluggers, already has 7 HR and could be called to the Majors at any moment. Like Pittsburgh's Jameson Taillon, Profar continues to make his way back after two seasons lost to injury.
Elsewhere, #28 overall prospect OF Lewis Brinson and the Double-A Texas League's South Division-leading Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers) will renew acquaintances with #15 prospect SS Alex Bregman and the Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros). Frisco's roster also features OF Ryan Cordell, our #6 prospect in the Rangers' loaded system, while the Hooks' lineup includes Houston's #6 prospect, OF Derek Fisher.
Enjoy the games!