1. Jimmy Nelson, rhp, Brewers
Season Totals: 8-2, 1.79, 90 IP, 59 H, 23 R, 18 ER, 27 BB, 96 SO at Triple-A Nashville.
Update: Nelson gave up two home runs in a start at Salt Lake after giving up only one home run in his first 13 Triple-A games but otherwise was his usual, effective self. He walked one, he struck out five and he picked up the win.
Prognosis: At this point, talk to a scout with Pacific Coast League coverage and one of the first questions you get is “why is Nelson still here?” Good question, no great answer. But Nelson should be up in Milwaukee at some point soon, and with his newfound ability to work to both sides of the plate and to neutralize a previously pretty significant platoon advantage for hitters, he’s ready to be a useful add in both mixed and NL roto-leagues.
2. Mookie Betts, 2b/cf, Red Sox
Season Totals: .350/.436/.527 (105-for-300), 68 R, 21 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 48 RBI, 47 BB, 33 SO, 28-for-33 SB at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.
Update: Betts just gets on base. After seeing his on-base streak finally end at 66 games, Betts dusted himself off and started a new one. He’s now reached in 25 straight games and is working on an nine-game hitting streak.
Prognosis: Betts’ “adjustment” to Triple-A has been smooth. He’s lost a few points in batting average and now strikes out about as often as he walks, but otherwise, he’s dominating the league as he did in Double-A. With the Red Sox’s outfield situation still in need of help, it’s starting to look more likely that we’ll see Betts make a second-half debut in Boston.
3. Oscar Taveras, of, Cardinals
Season Totals: .313/.365/.504 (72-for-230), 35 R, 18 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 18 BB, 29 SO, 1-for-2 SB at Triple-A Memphis.
Update: Taveras hasn’t sulked since his demotion. He has three doubles in his past five games.
Prognosis: Taveras’ problem is the same one we’ve written about all year. It’s hard for the Cardinals to find him a spot in their outfield unless they blow up the current team. Taveras isn’t a center fielder, which is the best spot for the Cardinals to work in a new outfielder. And Matt Adams‘ recent tear makes it less and less likely that the club will move Allen Craig to first base. For now, Taveras looks stuck in a holding pattern.
4. Jon Gray, rhp, Rockies
Season Totals: 7-3, 3.77, 14 G, 14 GS, 74 IP, 64 H, 33 R, 31 ER, 20 BB, 68 SO at Double-A Tulsa
Update: It’s not Mark Appel’s struggles, but Gray hasn’t dominated as much as one would hope this year, especially recently. Gray gave up five runs in five innings at Northwest Arkansas this week. It’s the third time this year he’s given up as many runs scored as innings pitched.
Prognosis: Gray’s stuff is still dominant at his best, but his uneven work in the Texas League is a taste of what he’ll face in Colorado. Fantasy leagues don’t make park adjustments, so even if Gray comes up while he’ll give strikeouts and some wins, his ERA and WHIP won’t be as helpful.
5. Nick Kingham, rhp, Pirates
Season Totals: 3-7, 2.45, 92 IP, 82 H, 37 R, 25 ER, 3 HR, 28 BB, 69 SO at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis
Update: Kingham has allowed one run in his first three Triple-A starts and has worked at least 6 2/3 innings in each outing.
Prognosis: Kingham is on a roll right now. His control has improved and he has three average or better pitches. He projects as a No. 3 starter long-term, but much like Taveras, he may be waiting in line for a while. Gerrit Cole is coming off the disabled list, which means the Pirates have six viable options in Pittsburgh for five starting spots.
6. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Red Sox
Season Totals: 8-4, 2.54, 88.2 IP, 66 H, 30 R, 25 ER, 4 HR, 40 BB, 76 SO at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Update: Ranaudo has a 1.82 ERA in five starts this month. He’s allowed two earned runs or less in 10 of his past 13 starts and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since April 14.
Prognosis: Allen Webster has been a frequent member of the Fantasy Top 10, but we’re replacing him with Ranaudo this week. Ranaudo has outpitched Webster this year, and it’s not like Ranaudo does it with smoke and mirrors. The big righthander doesn’t blow away hitters, but they rarely square him up and he is extremely consistent.
7. Joc Pederson, of, Dodgers
Season Totals: .319/.437/.568 (87-for-332), 58 R, 11 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 42 RBI, 57 BB, 95 SO, 20-for-27 SB at Triple-A Albuquerque.
Update: Pederson left the game on Tuesday after hurting his shoulder when he dived to make a catch. He’s expected to miss about 10 days with a separated shoulder.
Prognosis: Pederson’s path to the big leagues is complicated and that was before the shoulder injury. The Dodgers have been rumored to be considering a trade of an outfielder. Pederson should be in Los Angeles before too long and if he does arrive, he’s a great power-speed combo player who could help a lot of fantasy teams.
8. Micah Johnson, 2b, White Sox
Season Totals: .307/.372/.421 (78-for-254), 32 R, 13 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 25 BB, 45 SO, 14-for-23 SB at Triple-A Charlotte.
Update: Johnson is 9-for-21 in his past five games with a three-hit and a four-hit game.
Prognosis: Johnson is unlikely to get a call-up because he only fits as a regular—he’s a better hitter than Leury Garcia, but Garcia can play all three outfield spots and three infield spots in a pinch. Johnson is a second baseman. So as long as Gordon Beckham is healthy, Johnson stays in Charlotte. But if something happens, Johnson would be an immediate help for teams needing steals. He led the minors with 84 last year and while he’s been much less active on the basepaths this year, he still retains his plus speed.
9 (tie). Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs;
Joey Gallo 3b, Rangers
Gallo Season Totals: .308/.444/.713 (74-for-240), 63 R, 10 2B, 3 3B, 27 HR, 65 RBI, 60 BB, 90 SO, 5-for-8 SB at high Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco.
Bryant Season Totals: Bryant .346/.449/.721 (93-for-269), 66 R, 20 2B, 0 3B, 27 HR, 67 RBI, 46 BB, 86 SO, 8-for-10 SB at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
Update: Bryant has five home runs in his six Triple-A games, tying Gallo for the most in the minors, but he has no other hits since his promotion. Gallo has also been boom-or-bust since his promotion to Double-A Frisco. He has six home runs in his first 14 games, but also has 26 strikeouts.
Prognosis: There are myriad reasons for the Rangers and Cubs not to call up the two top power hitters in the minors. The Rangers are six games under .500 and the Cubs are even further out at 11 games under. So there’s no pennant race urgency; Also, there’s the financial factor, as both teams want to control the players for as long as possible and as cheaply. Additionally, both are not finished products. Gallo has struck out in 40 percent of his plate appearances since he moved up to Double-A. Bryant has struck out 37.5 percent of the time since the jump to Triple-A. Bryant’s also still got some work to do on his reliability at third—he had a .923 fielding percentage in Double-A, thanks largely to fielding problems (only four of his 14 errors have been throwing errors). But for their minor faults, these are the best power prospects in the game and would immediately blow up the remaining FAAB budgets if they do get the unlikely call to the majors at any point this season.