Minor League Baseball has come to a close and with it another season of prospects break outs. Hopefully you’ve stocked up on some of this year’s newest stars from Scott Kingery to Ronald Acuna to Jon Duplantier. This article is one similar to the one Baseball America publishes, but with some more advanced metrics we might find a bit more useful. To qualify, a batter must have had 450 AB. This article will focus on hitters with a later edition focused solely on pitchers.
Standard Category Leaders
A.J. Reed, 1B (HOU) - 34
Remember this guy? Reed was the hottest commodity heading into the 2016 season before struggling mightily in 45 games (he had a 51(!) wRC+) and being banished back down to the minors. He’s spent nearly all of 2017 at AAA and has slashed .261/.358/.525 in 556 PA.
Should We Care: Reed’s lost a significant amount of value, both because of his bad MLB debut and how the Astros squeezed him out of their plans. But because he’s still performing well in AAA, I’d continue to roster in leagues with more than 100 prospects and hope he gets traded to a team that can play him with regularity.
Bo Bichette, SS (TOR) - .362 AVG
Few prospects have increased their stock as much as Bichette did this year. Just 19, he tore through A-ball, hitting .383/.448/.623 in 70 games before the Blue Jays decided it was time to head up to High-A. There, he slashed .323/.379/.463. I mentioned he was just 19, right?
Should We Care: Yes. Bichette needs to be owned in every dynasty format league. In shallow keepers, you can hold off unless you can claim someone forever. I expect him to start 2018 in High-A and get a quick promotion to Double-A, and don’t be surprised if the Jays push him and just start him in AA out of the chute.
Garrett Hampson, 2B (COL) - 113 runs
Playing all year in High-A, Hampson enjoyed a strong second professional season slashing .326/.387/.462 with a whopping 51 steals and 8 HR. A third-round pick in 2016, Hampson carries just a 12.8 K% and a 9.3 BB%.
Should We Care: So there are several grains of salt here. Hampson is 22 (turns 23 in October) and did all his damage in Lancaster, a great hitter’s park in a great hitter’s league. In leagues with more than 200 prospects, you can give him a whirl, but it’s better to add him to your watch list and see if the Rockies are aggressive with him next year.
Christian Walker, 1B (ARI) - 114 RBI
Walker is a 26-year-old first baseman who spent all year in Reno, which in itself marks the third full year he’s been in Triple-A. It was a busy offseason for Walker, bouncing from Baltimore to Atlanta to Cincinnati before finally landing in Arizona. He slashed .309/.382/.597 to go along with 32 HR (second most in MiLB), so it’s not like he’s been scuffling. Even more encouraging, he has a 17.6 K%, a big improvement over last year’s 25 percent mark.
Should We Care: Unfortunately, Walker is blocked by some guy named Paul Goldschmidt on the DBacks. Because he’s not on the 40-man roster, I expect he’ll be selected in the Rule 5 draft. Right now, I don’t think you should roster him outside the deepest of leagues. If he’s selected by a team who can give him playing time, I’d make a speculative grab to see if he breaks camp and performs akin to Adam Duvall.
Wes Rogers, OF (COL) - 70
Rogers is a teammate of Garret Hampson and you can imagine how hard opposing pitchers rolled their eyes when the two of them got on base. I highlighted Rogers at the end of August as a sleeper prospect worth eyeballing. His 70 SB are 16 more than second place (Jorge Mateo). It’s not all just legs, either. With a .319/.377/.488 line and 9 HR, he’s pretty dynamic. Rogers knows when to go, too, with an 85% SB rate.
Should We Care: Rogers is not without is caveats either. He’s 23, repeating the level this year and it’s the Cal League. Much like Hampson, he’s a wait-and-see kind of prospect with the hope that Colorado finally sends him to AA next season. If he posts similar stats, then I’d add him in leagues with 200+ prospects.
Eric Filia, 1B/OF (SEA) - 1.44 BB/K.
Filia was a 20th-round pick from the 2016 draft and spent all season in High-A after spending 2016 in Low-A. With 65 BB to 45 K, there’s no denying he has a great eye at the plate. In 2016, his numbers were even more pronounced, walking 39 times and striking out 19 in 68 games. He slashed .326/.407/.434 this season.
Should We Care: Despite the great eye at the plate, right now Filia shouldn’t be someone to concern yourself with. Whether he’s an OF or a 1B, he has little power (just 5 HR this season) and that’s not a profile we want in those positions.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B/OF (PHI) - .297
You should know who this guy is by now. Hoskins has taken the majors by storm with an OPS of 1.195 thanks to 12 HR with the Phillies, bringing his season total to 41. For better or worse, he’s going to be a high draft pick next season. If you own him now, enjoy the ride.
Should We Care: lol
Jon Singleton, 1B (HOU) - 21.4%
The AJ Reed before AJ Reed. Singleton debuted in 2014 and in 95 games hit 14 HR but slashed .168/.385/.335. His cup of coffee in 2015 was even shorter and worse. He was then jumped on the roster chart by AJ Reed and in a quick poof we all forgot about Singleton. Because of Reed’s presence in AAA, Singleton spent 2017 in Double-A and owns a whacky .206/.376/.397 line on the year with 18 HR in 500 PA.
Should We Care: Nah. Singleton is looking like someone who’s destined to spend the majority of his career in the minors. But at least he signed that 5-year, $10 million deal before ever seeing a major league pitch!
Breyvic Valera, 2B/OF (STL) - 2.9%
A 2.9% SwStr rate is incredibly elite. Consider that the MLB leader in 2017 is Joe Mauer with 3.9%. Simply put, Valera rarely misses when he swings. Still just 25, Valera already has more than 800 minor league games under his belt. He signed with the Cardinals out of Venezuela in 2010. Valera recently made his MLB debut this season, though at the time of this writing had just four PA.
Should We Care: Valera slashed .314/.368/.450 this year 117 games at Triple-A, and even hit eight home runs, or two more than he had hit in his entire professional career before 2017. But he figures to be someone that’s more useful in real life than fantasy with limited power and speed. You can skip.
Ibandel Isabel, 1B (LAD) - 32.9%
Sometimes you just want to see a big dude crush some big home runs. Ibandel Isabel, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound righty, fits the profile. He hit 28 HR in 492 PA and finished his High-A season with a .259/.327/.489 line.
Show We Care: Scouting reports have Isabel with 80-grade raw power and explosiveness off his bat. 80-grade raw is reserved for the Gallos and Stantons of the world. But the issue here is his strikeouts. He owns a 35 K%, which is an improvement over last year’s absurd 41.8 mark in 24 games at A-ball. He’s as fast as Billy Butler and he has a 30 hit tool. Right now, we’ll admire his BP session and forget about him everywhere else.