Two years ago in my deep dynasty league (30 MLB, 40 MiLB) I picked up Jharel Cotton, a starting pitcher in the Dodgers organization who, through July of 2014, had compiled a 4.88 ERA in the Advanced-A California League. Nothing about Cotton’s background--a 2012 20th-round pick out of East Carolina--or his numbers suggested that he was roster-worthy even in my deep league. But Cotton had just thrown back-to-back gems for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes--a seven-inning one-hitter with nine strikeouts and a complete-game two-hitter with 11 Ks--and I read that scouts had alerted him to a flaw in his delivery--he was tipping his pitches--so I added him as a free agent. He has continued to pitch well, at times has been dominant, and is on the cusp of major-league debut with the Oakland Athletics, who acquired him at the 2016 trade deadline.
In deep dynasty leagues, Cotton is the sort of minor-leaguer one hopes to find in July or August, when the obvious breakout players long-since have been taken. He’s not likely to lead my fantasy team to a championship, but he could be an important part of my rotation as early as next season, and he cost me nothing but a little research.
For dynasty-leaguers in search of late-summer value, here are a few recommended August additions to your minor-league roster. Only one appears on a major organizational Top-30 list. I have picked up all three players and intend to hold onto them at least through next spring, when they will have advanced a level or two.
Jasrado Chisholm, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (Missoula Osprey, Short-Season Pioneer League)
Chisholm appears at #30 on MLB.com’s list of the top 30 prospects in the Diamondbacks system. He’s described as a “quick-twitch athlete” whose “tools and skills have already been showing up consistently in terms of his production and performance.” There’s some swing-and-miss in his game (15:59 BB:K), but he’s slashing .301/.350/.459 with 7 HR and 12 SB. That power-speed potential from a middle infielder might remind dynasty-leaguers of former D’Backs SS Isan Diaz. Chisholm recently moved from the middle to the top of the Missoula lineup, where he’ll see as many at-bats as possible through the remainder of the season
Anthony Santander, OF, Cleveland Indians (Lynchburg Hillcats, Class-A Advanced Carolina League)
Santander has been overshadowed by fellow Lynchburg prospects C Francisco Mejia, 1B Bobby Bradley, and OF Greg Allen, but the 21-year-old LF from Venezuela has had an excellent season in his own right. Batting third for the 78-49 Hillcats, Santander has posted a .288/.369/.489 slash line with 34 doubles, 19 HR and 10 SB. The power-speed potential is particularly intriguing. Might Santander’s emergence have made it easier for the Indians to trade #1 prospect OF Clint Frazier at the deadline?
Emilio Vargas, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Kane County Cougars, Class A Midwest League)
On July 13 Vargas’s ERA sat at 5.55. Today, seven starts later, it stands at 3.56. In his most recent start at Quad Cities, Vargas posted one of the season’s most eye-popping lines (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 17 K). In that game he consistently kept River Bandits’ hitters off-balance with excellent fastball command and then put them away with his changeup. Vargas’s dominant run coincides with a decision to abandon his curveball, and he has shown excellent control of his remaining three-pitch repertoire (18 BB in 65.2 IP). I hope he’s the next Jharel Cotton.