April Fantasy Duds
New this season is the Prospect Parade. Every month I will present a recap of the previous month's performances that were - well - not all that special. This will be a position-by-position analysis of players across all four levels. To see April's best prospect performances check out Michael Schwarz's article here. As is the case among best performers, many of the prospects in this article can also be found on our Fake Teams Consensus Top 100 Fantasy Prospects List or on the team-by-team, organizational Top 10 prospect lists that were published throughout the offseason.
C - Tyler Stephenson CIN (Dayton Dragons Low A)
Tyler Stephenson is a former 2015 1st round pick for the Cincinnati Reds. Stephenson is ranked as the #91 prospect and #7 overall prospect in the Cincinnati system. Although just a high school graduate, Stephenson was the consensus top catcher in the 2015 draft. His best tool is his arm, but his plate discipline, power, and on-base skills are also his calling cards. However, the first month of the season showed a slash line of .136/.224/.182 with 0 home runs and a 5:11 BB/K rate. At just 19 years old he will be just fine in the future, but his April was a month to forget.
1B - Matt Olson OAK (Nashville Sounds AAA)
April was a tough one to be the fifth ranked position player as the #5 first bagger was also my dud of the month. Mr. Power did show some pop for the Sounds, but other than his three bombs there was little else to write home about. His batting average was a not-so-solid .154 with a 11:19 BB/K rate. His walks should continue to rise as he led the Minors with 117 last season. Olson will improve this season, but his batting average will always show the kind of hitter that he is. Expect the Oakland Athletics to call upon the 97th ranked prospect later this season.
2B - Alex Blandino CIN (Pensacola Blue Wahoos AA)
Well, well, well if it isn't the fifth ranked second basemen. The 8th ranked prospect in the Reds system also had an April to forget. Cincinnati selected Blandino in the first round of the 2014 draft. With a jump to Double-A he also made the move to 2B. Blandino brings solid average and on-base skills to the team. However, April's line of .167/.196/.241 with a BB/K ratio of 2:15 doesn't begin to put those skills on display. The Reds hope their prospect can get back on pace with the .296/.370/.438 promise that he showed at High A.
3B - Rafael Devers BOS (Salem Red Sox Adv A)
Last season, at age 18, the 11th ranked prospect in all of baseball hit .288 in 500 plate appearances for Low A Greenville. The future was bright at the Boston Red Sox hot corner for their number two minor leaguer. One month certainly doesn't break the hope, but Devers did not hold his own to start the season at Salem given his high ceiling. Devers hit a meager .138 in 80 at bats. As the other prospects listed here he will be just fine, but Devers leads my voting as Dud of the Month for April.
SS - Gleyber Torres CHC (Myrtle Beach Pelicans Adv A)
Similar to the Chicago Cubs major league team, Gleyber Torres had a 2015 to remember. He hit .293 over 119 games for Low A South Bend before getting the promotion to help Myrtle Beach win the Adv-A Championship at only 18 years old. To start 2016, ranked as the #36 prospect in baseball, Torres needs to channel some of that 2015 energy. In the first month of the season the Cubs top prospect hit .179 with 23 strikeouts. Torres is not expected to be around for the Cubs playoff push this season, but he will need to figure out Adv A pitching this summer in order to continue moving through the system.
OF - Brett Phillips MIL (Biloxi Shuckers AA)
As a Brewers fan, this position pains me to write about. Phillips had an awful April based on expectations for him. The Brewers received him as part of last season's Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez trade with the Houston Astros. After hitting .309 with 100+ runs in 2015, the ceiling is high for the 34th ranked prospect nicknamed Maverick. Phillips did hit .257 in April, but there are some concerns in his other stats. Phillips is graded with a 60 speed tool, yet only had 1 stolen base in April. Making him the outfield dud of the month is his 28 strikeouts in 21 games. Although he has had numerous strikeouts in his career, he needs to become more disciplined at the plate. In order to be a top-of-the-lineup hitter for the Brew Crew he will need to be able to put the ball in play and get on base. His strikeout pace will resemble Jose Hernandez rather than an OBP a la Paul Molitor.
SP - Jake Thompson PHI (Lehigh Valley IronPigs AAA)
Jake Thompson is the 43rd ranked prospect in baseball and the second ranked prospect in the young and talented Philadelphia Phillies system. A solid AA 2015, at age 21, finished with Thompson showing a 11-7 record and a 3.73 ERA including going 5-1 after being traded to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal. Thompson has an arsenal of 4 pitches that he is not afraid to throw. He has the potential to eat up a lot of innings at the top of the Phillies rotation in years to come. However, his first month in AAA for the IronPigs did not go as planned for Thompson. He has started the year with a 1-3 record and a horrifying 6.16 ERA. Records are not always a telltale sign of how a pitcher is actually doing because run support can play a role. Thompson's record is true to form, however, as opponents hit .297 off of him in his first 4 starts leading to a 1.58 WHIP to begin the season. The good news is Thompson is only 22 and already in AAA. Keep an eye on him as he may be just a few good starts away from being the next young gun to get the call to the major league level this season.
Although the season has started slow for this group of talented prospects, they still are just that - prospects. They can turn it around quickly and none of these players should be dropped in your dynasty leagues if you are banking on them for future success. As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers.